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My work explanatory of the Gospels has been 
long before the world, and I now complete my 
Observations on the New Testament with these 
Lectures on the Acts and the Epistles. They were 
prepared for the purpose of qualifying the Students 
entrusted to my care for an intelligent and bene- 
ficial study of Commentaries and Treatises on 
Theology ; and as it appeared to me desirable to 
keep them within moderate limits, I have abstained 
from critical discussions, and have in general been 
content to state my opinion, without a reference to 
the reasons on which it has i)een formed. They 
arc committed to the press in the persuasion, that 
those who have received their education in Mag- 
dalene Hall during the many years in which 1 have 
been Principal, will value them as an acceptable 
memorial of their University residence, and with 
the desire that they may promote the edification of 
all who read them^ by leading them to a more 
diligent and prayerful perusal of this portion of the 
Word of God. 

June 14, 185H. 


Introductory Observations .... 

Acts of the Apostles. 
Sect. I. The Gospel is preached to the Jews 
Sketch of the Constitution of the Primitive Church 
Sect. II. The Gospel is preached to the Samaritans 
Sect. III. The Gospel is preached to the Ethiopian 

Eunuch, a Proselyte of Righteousness 
Sect. IV. The miraculous conversion of Saul the persecutor 
Sect. V. St. Peter opens the Kingdom of Heaven to Cor- 
nelius, the first fruits of the Proselytes of the Gate . 
Sect. VI. The Gospel is received in the capital of Syria . 
Sect. VII. The second persecution under King Herod 
Ag"P]>a ...... 

Sect. VIII. The Gospel is at length communicated to the 

idolatrous Gentiles by Barnabas and Paul . 
Sect. IX. The Council of the Apostles and Elders, 
which determines that the Mosaic Law is not binding 
upon the believing Gentiles 
Sect. X. St. Paul's Second Missionary Journey 

The Pauline Epistles. 
The Epistles to the Thessalonians 
St. Paul at Athens 
The Epistle to the Galatians 
St. Paul at Corinth 
The Epistle to Titus 
The First Epistle to Timothy . 
Sect. XI. St. Paul's Third Missionary Journey 
The First Epistle to the Corinthians 
St. Paul at Ejihcsus 
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians . 











The Episilo to the Romans . 

St. Paul's Address to the Elders ol Ephesus at Miletus 

St. Paul's arrest at Jerusalem, his ai.pcal to Caesar, and 

his voyage to Rome 
The Epistle to the Ephesians 
The Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon 
The Epistle to the Philippians . 
The Epistle to the Hebrews 
St. Paul writes the Second Epistle to Timothy from his 
])rison in Rome . • • " 

The Catholic Epistles. 

The Epistle of St. James 

The First Epistle of St. Peter . 

The Second Epistle of St. Peter 

The Epistle of J ude 

The First Epistle of St. John . 

The Second Epistle of St. John 

The Third Epistle of St. John 

TJje Epistles to the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse 

The Conclusion . • • ' 


287, 296 




The Gospels, to use the language of Chrjsostom, are the 
history of what Christ said and did ; the Acts, of what was 
said and. done by the other Advocate. The first record the 
ministry of Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith ; 
the second, the building by his Apostles of his Church upon 
the sure and precious foundation of Him, crucified for our 
sins, and raised again for our justification. This Book contains 
the only authentic narrative of the promised descent of the 
Holy Spirit, and of its operations both on and with his first 
followers ; on them, by endowing them with undaunted re- 
solution ; and with them, by making them mighty to cast 
down the strongholds of Satan, and to bring the hearts both 
of bigotted Jews and of ignorant and vicious heathen into 
captivity to the obedience of Christ. We read herein how 
they carried out their commission; and the evidence for the 
fundamental fact of the Resurrection, with which the Gospels 
close, is here corroborated by the testimony of those to whom 
our Lord shewed himself alive after his passion, and by the 
working of the Spirit with that testimony to the conversion 
of thousands, according" to his prediction, " If I be raised up, 
I shall draw all men unto me." The religion which in the 
Gospels is a minute mustard seed, rapidly springs up in the 
Acts, and promises to fulfil the prediction, which future 
ages have witnessed, of its becoming a great tree of life, with 
leaves for the healing of the nations. Only fifty days after 


the crucifixion of Jesus, and under the eyes of those who 
had crucified him, his Apostles boldly declared his resur- 
rection and exaltation to the right hand of God, and charged 
them with killing the Prince of life. They were neither 
learned nor eloquent, they had no influence, they had all 
the wisdom as well as the folly, the learning as well as the 
ignorance, the piety as well as the atheism of the world to 
encounter, and the power whicli its rulers might at any time 
be inclined to exercise in behalf of any of these interests. 
Their weapons were facts which they had themselves wit- 
nessed, and which they confirmed from the Scriptures to the 
Jews, and by appeals to the consciences of all, by occasional 
miracles, by holy and beneficent lives, by fervent prayer and 
patient suffering, even to imprisonment and death ; which they 
not only endured, but rejoiced in for their Master's sake. 
Attended by a divine power, manifested both in undeniable 
miracles, and in inwardly preparing men's hearts to receive 
the truth, they had such astonishing success, that thousands 
not only of Jews and proselytes, but even of licentious idol- 
aters, in spite of ridicule and at the risk of life, declared 
their conviction of the truth of their doctrine, and adorned 
their profession by pure and moral lives. Now if this ac- 
count be true, the Gospel must have a divine origin ; it was 
written by one who was acquainted with the principal actors, 
and was present at many of the transactions which he relates. 
His impartiality entitles him to credit, and the acquiescence 
in his narrative of tliose who niiglit, if able, have confuted 
it, establishes his veracity ; for the events which he records 
did not take place in a corner, as Paul observed before 
King Agrippa and the Roman governor of Judaea, but in the 
principal and most enlightened cities of the empire; while 
neither Jewish scribe nor Gentile statesman or philosopher 
contradicted it. The silence of opponents j^roves that they 
could not deny the facts, though they refused to admit the 
conclusions justly drawn from them. The Churches also, the 


planting- of which it narrates, would never have acknow- 
ledged a book, the contents of which they did not know to 
be true. 

The authenticity of the Acts appears, from the references 
to it by both Greek and Latin Fathers. One of the earliest 
of the former, Irena?us, (iii. 14,) gives from it a sketch of St. 
Paul's travels ; and Origen wrote Commentaries on it, and 
ascribed it to Luke, A. D. 230 : while in the West, Tertul- 
lian, A.D. 200, speaks of it as confirming the Epistles, and 
the reality of that Apostle's conversion. In a later age, 
there are Homilies on this as well as on other books of 
Scripture, by Chrysostom, who tells us, that it was an ancient 
custom to read it out in the churches between Easter and 

I have noticed in the Introduction to the Diatessaron, the 
testimony of the apocryphal to the truth of the genuine 
Gospels. It may be observed, that if this book had not 
been previously circulated, such an imitation of it as the 
Acts of Paul and Thecla would never have been written. 
In this forgery, Onesimus and Titus are introduced as Paul's 
friends ; Demas, Hermogenes, and Alexander the copper- 
smith, as pretended adherents and real opponents ; and in one 
section they are brought in saying, that they will shew that 
the Resurrection, which he declares to be future, is passed 
already a. It is observable, that the authenticity of the Acts 
is never denied even by the few heretics who reject its 

'^ This work, which is extant in a Latin translation as well as in Greek, 
was published by Dr. Grabe, in his Spiei]egiura,from a MS. in the Bodleian, 
and may be read in English in Jones's Canon of the New Testament, 
vol. ii. Its date is unknown, but it must be earlier than Tertullian ; for in 
his tract on Baptism he writes, if they think fit to make use of works falsely 
ascribed to Paul, to support the right of women to teach and baptize, let 
them know, that the presbyter who composed these Acts, as if he had been 
able to increase Paul's fame, having confessed that he did it out of love to 
him, was deposed. 



The work is professedly a continuation of Luke's Gospel, 
and is like that dedicated to one Theophilus ; but as it is de- 
signed to be independent and complete in itself, the dedication 
is repeated, audit begins, as the former treatise ended, with 
our Lord's Ascension. Luke never names himself; but from 
the change of the pronoun from t//ey to we, it appears that 
he joined Paul at Troas, (chap, xvi.) on his first voyage to 
Europe. Another change implies, that he was not with him 
at Athens ; and a third, that he joined him again at Troas, 
to leave him no more. The narrative ends abruptly with 
leave given to Paul to reside under the guard of a soldier in 
his own hired lodging, and therefore it was probably finished 
before his liberation. The date may therefore be assumed 
to be about thirty years after the Crucifixion. The title, 
Acts of the Holy Apostles, was hardly given to it by the 
author, for with respect to most of them it is silent. Even 
Peter and John, the prominent characters in the beginning, 
are soon succeeded by Paul, and the greater part is appro- 
priated to a narrative of his missionary travels. It could not 
however have been designed as his biography, for many 
interesting particulars, which must have been known to 
Luke, are entirely passed over. He is introduced abruptly ; 
and we only learn that In? was born at Tarsus, and educated 
in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. The interval between his con- 
version and his appearance is a blank. There are no allusions 
to his Epistles, nor to the disjjutes in the Churches which he 
planted ; and only a few of his sufferings in his Master's 
cause are recorded. Paul himself, when compelled by the 
schismatical Corinthians (2 Cor. xi. 24, 25.) to boast, enu- 
merates five scourgings by the Jews, three beatings with rods 
by the Romans, three shipwrecks previous to that off Melite, 
and a night passed in the deep — it should seem on some 
plank which preserved his life. And he tells the Romans, 
{xvi. 3, 4.) that Aquila and Priscilla had saved him at the 
risk of their own necks. Luke is content with a specimen. 


He relates one scourging, that at Philippi, (chap, xvi.) ; of 
his many visions, only the one which converted him, (chap, 
ix.), afterwards narrated by himself, (xxii.); one shipv^^reck, 
that on his voyage to Rome; he gives us only one of his 
many synagogue speeches, (c. xiii.) ; one address to a Pagan 
mob, (c. xiv.) ; one to philosophers at Athens, (c. xvii.) ; 
one farewell address to his converts, (c. xx.) that at Miletus; 
and one defence before a Roman governor, Felix, though 
he made another before Festus : for that before Agrippa, 
from the peculiarity of his being a Jew, is a reasonable ex- 
ception. His " perils of waters, his perils of robbers, his 
perils by the heathen, and his perils among false brethren," 
are altogether omitted. This great Apostle then, as Eich- 
horn remarks, is not the pole round which the narrative 
revolves ; and he, and Dr. Benson long before him, seem to 
be right in supposing that Luke's design was to give a con- 
cise statement of the mode of preaching Christianity adopted 
by the Apostles, and of their success. Accordingly, after 
an account of their commission by our Lord, and of the ef- 
fusion of the Holy Spirit to qualify them for their office, he 
commences with the conversion of the Jews ; this is followed 
by that of the Samaritans ; and next, by that of the devout 
Gentiles, or proselytes of the gate ; and finally, by that of the 
idolatrous Gentiles. In the two first divisions, Peter is the 
principal character ; in the last, Paul. The book may be 
divided into two parts ; in the first twelve chapters, Jerusalem 
is the centre from which all events proceed ; in the re- 
mainder, Antioch, from which Paul was sent forth on his 

The Acts are chronologically arranged, and yet no dates 
are given. It does not suit my design to discuss the merits 
of the several schemes proposed; I will merely observe, that 
the two most interesting events, the Conversion of Paul, and 
the Council of Jerusalem, are the most difficult to deter- 
mine; the date assigned to the former varying from A.D. 33 


to 40, that to the latter from A.D. 49 to 52. Profane 
history supplies us with the following facts, to guide chrono- 
logists in their investigations. 

The deposition of Pilate, A.D. 35, who had probably- 
acquiesced in Stephen's martyrdom. 

The embassy of the Jews to Caius Caligula, deprecating 
the erection of his statue at Jerusalem, which took place in 
A.D. 40, not long before his assassination, when Claudius 
succeeded, and appointed his friend Herod Agrippa, King of 
Juda3a, with all the dominions of his grandfather Herod the 
Great. He died A.D. 44, and this synchronizes with the 
famine and the relief sent by the brethren of Antioch to 
those of Jerusalem, and with the death of James the brother 
of John. 

Felix was appointed Procurator in A.D. 52, and Paul was 
imprisoned by him in 59 or 60, two years before the ex- 
piration of his government. Paul was sent to Rome a 
little before the equinox of 61, and reached Rome early 
in 62. 

The year 65, the commencement of the Jewish rebellion, 
which ended in the destruction of the city and temple, 70, 
appears also to have been the date of the martyrdom of both 
Paul and Peter. 

We have no narrative to compare with the Acts, as we 
have four Gospels to illustrate one another ; but we have 
the contemporary authority of Paul himself, in the Epistles 
which he wrote to several of the Churches, the formation of 
which the Book relates ; and commentators of course have 
seen from the first, that the one throws light upon the other. 
It was reserved, however, for Dr. Paley, in our own times, to 
shew from latent coincidences between tlie narrative in the 
one, and the allusion to them in the other, which had escaped 
not only ordinary readers, but the niost eminent commenta- 
tors, that these mutually attest the truth of the facts as 
independent vouchers. The Horac Paulinjjc, like all his 


writings^ from his omission of reference to preceding authors, 
has the air of originality ; but as the striking opening of his 
Natural Theology is borrowed from Nieuentyt's Religious 
Philosopher, so in this work he was probably indebted to 
Biscoe, who had shewn how the truth of the Acts is confirmed 
by the Epistles. 

He thus states his argument. By assuming the genuine- 
ness of the letters, we may prove the substantial truth of the 
history; or by assuming the truth of the history, we may 
argue strongly in support of the genuineness of the letters. 
But I assume neither. The reader is at liberty to suppose 
these writings to have come to our hands destitute of any 
extrinsic or collateral evidence whatever. He then guards 
against three suppositions; 1. the compiling of the history 
from the letters; 2. the fabrication of the letters out of the 
history; and, 3. the founding of both upon any common 
authority. He concludes, that undesignedness is the charac- 
teristic of truth; and that the more numerous the inter- 
mediate steps through which the conclusion is deduced, in 
a word, the more circuitous the investigation, the better, 
because the argument which finally results is thereby further 
removed from the suspicion of contrivance or design. The 
work has been all but universally admired, and is considered 
by many as the one on which the author's fame will prin- 
cipally rest. It has found, however, a formidable opponent 
in Dr. Hales ^, whose objections I think it proper to lay 
before the reader. He allows that Dr. Paley has traced out 
many curious instances of remote resemblance and latent 
coincidence, which have escaped even the best commentators; 
but he considers his hypothesis as rather specious than solid, 
because Luke attended the Apostle during the period in 
which most of the Epistles were written. Paul, he observes, 
probably kept copies, and Luke would have been unpardon- 
able to have neglected these most valuable documents for 
^ New Analysis of Chronology, iii. p. 445. 


his history, a history which the Apostle had probably com- 
missioned him to write. The conclusion is, that he would 
consult them, and borrow from them what best suited his 
plan, as an original historian acquainted with the subject, 
and having Paul himself to refer to if lie required it. As, 
he continues, the copying from Matthew's Gospel, with vari- 
ations by Mark and Luke, does not detract from their 
authority, Luke's knowledge of the Epistles will not lessen 
the credibility of the Acts. And indeed, when we consider 
that Luke accompanied Paul to Rome, and must have 
known those to whom his letters were sent, and listened to 
discourses on the subjects on which they treat, we can 
hardly have supposed that he would have abstained from a 
perusal which could not have failed to have been edifying to 
himself. His knowledge of them may even explain his 
silence, when otherwise we might have expected information 
from him; and we may conceive that he might assume that 
these letters would be read as now, not only by the congre- 
gations to which they were addressed, but by all the 

It is remarkable that no early attempt was made by 
opponents to call in question any of the fcxcts contained in 
this brief sketch of the progress of Christianity. Unless 
then we receive it, we must believe that no true record of 
the first propagation of the faith has been preserved, and a 
falsg document has been substituted, and that so dexterously 
forged, as to harmonise with all tradition, sacred and pro- 
fane, and the extant Epistles of the Apostles; and yet this 
document, notwithstanding all this skill, is at the same time 
deficient in many of the arguments in favour of this new 
religion, which a forger would scarcely have omitted. To 
the truth of the leading facts, we have the attestation of 
Christian writers occasionally supported, and never con- 
tradicted by heathens ; and if we admit the trutii of the 
narrative, the reality of the miracles follows as a necessary 


consequence. In Livy and other heathen historians it is 
easy to detach the marvellous from the ordinary course of 
events; but in the Acts, miracles and speeches and deeds are 
inseparably connected, so that both must stand or fall 
together. Without supernatural aid, the Apostles would 
never have undertaken to convert the world, nor succeeded 
in their undertaking. 

The internal evidence is most decisive, both as to style 
and matter. In language, and manner of composition, it 
remarkably resembles the Gospel of the same author, which 
diifers from the other three precisely as might be expected, 
from what we can collect of the habits of Luke. It has 
none of the elaborate arrangement of a forgery ; it is not a 
panegyrical biography of any of the Apostles; there is no 
oratorical display of their sufferings or of their success, nor 
is it a complete development of the religion they proclaimed. 
It opens without pretension, and passes from Peter and John 
to Paul, till he becomes the central and almost exclusive 
object. Its end is abrupt, and it is difficult to ascertain its 
precise object, for it omits many important facts, such as the 
foundation of the Churches of Edessa, Alexandria, Antioch, 
and even of Rome, though Christianity had been established 
in the first long before it was adopted by Constantine ; though 
the second was the great school of Theology; the third, 
the centre of Missions to the heathen; and the fourth, the 
most interesting as the capital of the empire, and the mother 
of all the Western Churches. He omits also many parti- 
culars in the life of St. Paul himself, upon whose actions he 
principally enlarges; and it is only incidentally that we dis- 
cover that he was frequently his fellow traveller. Indeed, 
he preserves a modest silence respecting himself, though as 
attending that great Apostle he must have cooperated in his 
labours, and shared his perils. 

The Acts take a wider range than the Gospels. Such a 
work, therefore, w^ouldhave been a more difficult undertaking 


for an impostor. It brings us to cities of celebrity, and in- 
troduces us to historical authorities, as Gallio, Felix, Festus, 
and Agrippa, whose characters have been sketched by 
heathen authors; and to Gamaliel and Ananias, concerning 
whom we have rabbinical traditions. Scarcely any forgery 
has been attempted, however ingenious, in which some 
mistake of fact or manners has not been detected ; and 
therefore, Jortin observes, if a forger has tolerable sense, he 
will avoid minute details, in which he must perpetually 
expose his ignorance or dishonesty. Yet the Acts abound 
in allusions to Jewish, Grecian, and Roman customs, some 
of which, unnoticed by any extant classical authors, have 
even been substantiated by coins and inscriptions. And in 
some cases, what remained for centuries an apparent dis- 
crepancy, has been of late years shewn to be correct in a 
manner as curious <= as satisfactory. 

••• See in Michaelis's Introduction to the New Testament, an ingenious 
explanation of St. Paul's ignorance of the person of the High Priest. The 
title of Proconsul (a;'6u7raTos), given to his convert Sergius Paulus, by Luke, 
(Acts xiii. 7.) is a case in point. Augustus divideil the provinces between 
himself and the Senate ; the Governors of the former were called Legates, 
those of the latter retained the ancient republican title of Proconsul, with 
the superior dignity of being attended by Lictors. Luke's accuracy has 
been called in question on the authority of a later historian, Dion Cassius; 
but a coin has been since discovered, giving the disputed title to the 
successor of Sergius in the government of Cyprus. Other examples are 
the title of Neocori {ufuKSpos"), claimed for the Ephesians by their town 
clerk, confirmed by a succession of coins. The altar at Athens to the Un- 
known (iod, mentioned in Diogenes Laertius, and the author of Pbilopatris, 
and Philippi, called a Roman colony, not airoiKla, but koawvIu. 





The Resurrection had declared Jesus to his Apostles to be 
the Son of God with power, and satisfied them that he had 
made atonement for sin by his voluntary sacrifice of himself 
upon the Cross, in the nature which he had assumed for 
that purpose, in order that his holy Father might be just, 
as well as merciful, in justifying the believer in him. A 
transient view, however, of their risen Lord would not have 
sufficed to convince their judgment, and to remove their 
prejudices ; He therefore graciously condescended to shew 
himself to them, from time to time, during a period of 
forty days after his passion, giving them infallible proofs 
that he was alive, and speaking to them sufficiently of the 
things pertaining to the kingdom of God. The period then 
was come for him to reassume the glory which he had had 
with the Father before the world was, and to send to them 
that second Advocate, who was to remain, though invisible, 
for ever with his people. He accordingly, for the last time, 
assembled them together, and led them out to the Mount of 
Olives as far as Bethany. They would have felt themselves 


more secure in their own country Galilee, than in the midst 
of their enemies ; but he had commanded them to continue 
at Jerusalem, and wait there for the promised baptism of 
the Holy Spirit, which the Baptist had, to mark its efficacy, 
contrasted with his own of water, by designating it as that 
of fire. They must have perceived, that their Lord had some 
most important object in view ; and seem to have indulged 
the hope, that he was now about to seat himself on the throne 
of his father David, and to break the yoke of imperial 
Rome. Their feelings vent themselves in the enquiry. 
Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 
He does not deny this sovereignty, or declare that they had 
misconceived its nature and its locality; but he waives a 
direct reply, knowing that the event would soon answer their 
question in the negative, and discourages them from the 
vain desire of penetrating the secret things of God. It is 
not for you to know the times and the seasons tohich the 
Father hath put in his oiim power, and which it was no part 
of his commission to reveal. He draws their attention to 
what it concerned them to know ; their allotted work of 
making disciples, and baptizing all men into the religion of 
the trivme Deity, and of bearing witness to him, not in 
Jerusalem, and in all Judcea alone, or even in Samaria, but 
also unto the uttermost part of the earth. This was a w'ork 
which men of greater natural powers than they weremightwell 
have renounced in despair ; but tiiey were sustained by the 
assurance, that they should vece'we power froin the Holy Spirit. 
He then gave this little flock his parting blessing, and in the 
act loas lifted up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 
Thus the Saviour ceased to be seen by men ; but we know 
from other passages of Scripture, that when he disappeared 
on earth, he was welcomed to heaven by myi'iads of angels, 
who attended him to his mediatorial throne, where he sits 
on the right hand of the Majesty on high, till his enemies 
shall be made his footstool ; gifted with all power in heaven 


and on earth, which believers have the strong consolation of 
knowing that he is ever exercising for the edifying of his 
Church. The Apostles gazed intently towards Jesus, even 
after he had vanished from their eyes ; and two of the hea- 
venly host, to comfort them, rendered themselves visible, and 
assured them, that as he had ascended, in like manner the 
same Jesus would return, coming, as he had himself an- 
nounced in Daniel's words, in the clouds of heaven, and as 
St. Paul teaches us, tvith the voice of the Archangel, and 
with the trump of God. 

Now is our salvation nearer by more than eighteen cen- 
turies, than when the angels comforted the Apostles with 
the assurance of his second advent in glorious majesty ; and 
of late many of his disciples have been asking, why the Lord 
delayeth his coming. The enquiry often proceeds from the 
desire of beholding him, whom, though they have never seen 
him, they love as their Benefactor, and would honour as 
their King ; and from a too impatient wish that he should 
take to himself his great power, and reign. It becomes them, 
however pardonable their longing, to possess their souls in 
patience, as the Apostles did, for God's providence does not 
allow us to anticipate the day, which is to take the world by 
surprise. It is enough to know that the Son of man cometh 
as a thief in the night, in an hour in which he is not expected, 
and that the same meetness for his presence is required for 
those who shall first sleep in Jesus, and for those who shall 
be alive at his coming. In our days the Gospel has been 
proclaimed to the many distant lands which it had not pre- 
viously reached ; and there are few indeed which the joyful 
sound has not at least imperfectly reached, so that now it 
can hardly be long before the holy city, the new Jerusalem, 
shall come down from heaven, in the light of which the 
nations of the saved shall walk — the light not of the sun, 
but of the Lamb. Then shall the renewed earth, in which 
righteousness is to dwell, realise the design of its Creator, 


and become a temple worthy of him. It seems to be a 
blessing reserved for a future generation to bring forth witj^ 
shoutings the headstone of the spiritual edifice. It is 
honour sufficient to be hewers of timber or quarriers of 
marble; and having erected on the only foundation, the Rock 
of Ages, a superstructure, we hope, of " gold and silver and 
precious stones," let us be contented with accomplishing our 
allotted work, leaving others to enter into our labours, 
looking forward to the spiritual harvest, when, as our Lord 
has promised, sowers and reapers shall rejoice together. 

Our Lord's miraculous ascent, the encouraging assurance 
of the Angels, and his previous conversation, so kept up 
their faith, that instead of yielding to despondency, their 
first occupation was to fill up the vacancy in their number, 
occasioned by the defection of Judas ; and nothing could 
more strongly shew their conviction that Jesus was the 
Christ, and their determination to do what in them lay 
to fulfil his command of propagating his religion. The 
Apostles now returned to the upper room'', but not as on 
former occasions in the spirit of fear, for we read no 
more of the doors being shut for fear of the Jews. 
When their Master was seized, they had all forsaken him 

» There were many capacious apartments in the Temple, and there are 
distinguished commentators who assign to them one of these. The use of 
one, however, was not likely to be asked by or granted to the disciples of 
one, whom the priests had rejected, and prevailed upon the government to 
crucify. The article in the original indicates that it must have been men- 
tioned in " the former treatise," consequently the one in which our Lord had 
instituted his Supper. It was, we are told, in the house of a friend, and 
became in time, according to Cyril, himself Bishop of Jerusalem, the upper 
church of the Apostles. Here too, he says, the Holy Ghost descended 
upon them; a fact which tradition might easily preserve, and had no tempt- 
ation to falsify. It stood upon Mount Zion; and Jerome, who spent his 
later days in the Holy Land, applies to it the Psalmist's words, I'he Lord 
lovntli tlie gates of Zion viorc tluin nil the dwellings of Jacob. It was pro- 
bably the room honoured by Christ's appearance after the Resurrection, and 
(ho house in which they broke bread, if we so translate kolt oIkov, instead 
oifrom house to hmise. 


and fled, and their hope had been buried with him in 
the grave. But when he had broken the bonds of death, 
which could detain him no longer than he pleased, their 
hope revived, and they returned, but in a different spirit 
from that in which they had gone; for they had seen their 
Master ascend to a heavenly throne ; and now, filled with 
higher aspirations, setting their affections on things above, 
they were willing to follow him even though it should be 
through death. On an appointed day, they were assembled 
with the rest of the believers, including the women, altogether 
no more than one hundred and twenty. We read of an 
appearance of the risen Saviour to as many as five hundred 
in Galilee, but few of these would venture to appear in 
Jerusalem; and there might be in the city secret believers, 
who were afraid of shewing themselves. Peter now takes 
the lead, and strengthens the brethren, by calling upon them 
to fill up the vacancy in their body, caused by the defection 
of Judas, and so to shew their intention of following out 
their Lord's commandment. He encouraged them by shew- 
ing, that both his treachery, and the providing a successor 
on his failure, had been foretold in two of the Psalms. "Let 
his habitation be desolate ;" (Ixix. 25.) "and his office of super- 
intendence let another take." (cix. 8.) The qualifications 
required were an attendance upon the Lord during his 
whole ministry, and the ability to attest the fact of his 
Resurrection. The necessity of the latter appears from the 
words of the supernumerary Apostle, who was commissioned 
by his Lord direct, Am not I an Apostle? have not I seen the 
Lord? (1 Cor. ix. 1 .) and he was put on a level with the others, 
by the sight of him in his glorified body. Peter did not 
presume to name the Apostle, but the assembly selected two, 
Joseph, surnamed Barsabas, and Matthias; and the decision 
was refei-red in prayer to the Lord, who knows the hearts of 
men. That Lord we cannot doubt was Jesus, for he claims 
this attribute in dictating his Epistle to Thyatira; (Rev. xir. 


23.) and it is said afterwards, that the Apostles commended 
the presbyters they had elected to the Lord, in whom they 
believed, (Acts xiv. 23.) The lot fell upon Matthias, but these 
brief annals take no notice of his labours. Nor do we read 
of any of the eleven, except the two James's, Peter, and John. 
And even our Lord's Mother is now named for the last time. 
Barsabas occurs once more as a propagator of the faith. 
T/ie lot, says the Proverb, (xvi. 33.) is cast into the lap, 
but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord; and this 
precedent has been often followed. But though under the 
earlier dispensation it had even been commanded, as in the 
division of Canaan, it does not seem sanctioned by this 
instance, for it preceded the full manifestation of the Spirit, 
and was in its nature peculiar; as the new Apostle would 
not have been of equal authority with the rest, unless the 
Master set his seal to his appointment in an extraordinary 
way. The eventual consequence of this apparently insigni- 
ficant meeting, in an upper chamber, of a small party, in 
humble station, of uncultivated minds, was an unparalleled, 
moral, and religious revolution, which gradually improved 
and spiritualized the whole framework of society. Yet 
neither their doctrine nor their energy were their own ; they 
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, which 
brought home their words with power to the consciences 
and hearts of their hearers. 

It was one of the wise arrangements of the Mosaic dis- 
pensation, that an acknowledgment of the bounty of the 
God of nature, in giving fruitful seasons, should be con- 
nected with the commemoration of his spiritual blessing on 
his people Israel. Thus the Feast of Weeks, or of Pente- 
cost, as it was called in Greek, as the fiftieth day from that 
high day, the second of unleavened bread, was observed as 
a thanksgiving, not only for the harvest, but also for the 
promulgation of the Law. It was chosen for the announce- 
ment of the new and better covenant of the Gospel, which was 


to supersede the Law, and the command was to go forth no 
longer from Sinai, but from Zion. The day predetermined 
for the solemn promulgation of Christianity, was one which 
gave an opportunity of declaring at once to mankind a 
faith, which was designed for them all. It was the second 
of the three feasts, which it was the duty of the Israelites to 
keep in the place which it had pleased God to choose for 
his special abode on earth. We learn from their own 
historian, Josephus, that their concourse was great enough to 
justify Luke's expression, ' they came out of every country 
under heaven.' He takes them in geographical order, be- 
ginning with the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and dwellers 
in Mesopotamia in the east; proceeds northward to Cappa- 
docia and Asia Minor ; and enumerating Egypt and Lybia, 
in the south and west, concludes his circle with Rome, Crete, 
and Arabia. The number present must have been beyond 
what we can easily imagine. The only assemblage that we 
can compare with it in modern times is the annual pilgrimage 
to Mecca, which attracts pious Moslems from still remoter 
regions, as Tartary, India, and Morocco. In both, business 
and religion met together ; for, as in the great fairs of the 
mediaeval ages, trade was carried on at fixed places and at 
appointed times, and the former was sanctified by, and gave 
protection to, the latter. The influx into Jerusalem was 
probably greater, for a Mecca pilgrimage is only required 
once in a life, and may be performed by a substitute. The 
attendance at Jerusalem was thrice in every year, but it 
was left to discretion, and distant Israelites did not probably 
often repeat the visit. Pentecost, it is likely, was the fullest, 
as distant worshippers who could afford to stay, we may 
suppose would remain from the preceding Passover. At 
the desire of Cestius Gallus, Governor of Syria, not many 
years after, a calculation of the lambs slain, allowing a paschal 
family to consist of ten, gave a temporary population of above 
two millions and a half. Even the outcasts of Israel may be 


comprehended among the Medes; and the dispersed ofJudah, 
though then as now dwelling alone, were still, while enjoy- 
ing a religious existence in their own Judaea, almost as 
much scattered among the nations. Of those dispersed 
over the Roman empire, we have authentic accounts. 
They had been highly favoured by Alexander, and by his 
generals who assumed the thrones of Syria and Egypt. 
In Antioch, Seleucus had granted them the same privileges 
as to the Macedonians, and they had been confirmed by the 
Romans. Egypt, where Philo computes them at a million, 
and they had a rival temple, was a second home. A whole 
quarter in Alexandria was appropriated to them, and they 
were under the government of one of their own nation. 
Philo has preserved a letter from the elder Agrippa to the 
Emperor Caius, in which he writes, " Nor can I forbear to 
allege in behalf of the holy city, that it is not the metro- 
polis of Judasa alone, but of many countries, on account of 
the colonies it has sent forth, not only into neighbouring 
lands, as the Syrias and Egypt, but into places more remote, 
as Pamphylia, Cilicia, and as far as Bithynia, and the recesses 
of Pontus. Europe also, as Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, 
and the best parts of Peloponnesus, are filled with Jews; and 
not the continents only, but also the isles, as Crete and 
Cyprus, not to mention the country beyond the Euphrates." 
The younger Agrippa also, when the war was about to 
break out, uses their dispersion as an argument for peace. 
" You will," says he, " expose to danger not yourselves 
only, but the Jews, who inhabit other cities, for there is not 
in all the world a people which has not among them some 
of you." And we have a little earlier, a witness to the 
same fact in St. Peter, who addresses his first Epistle to the 
strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, 
[proconsular] Asia, and Bithynia. All these became the more 
attached to their holy and rational law, as they contrasted 
th.eir Lord Jehovah, the Maker and Governor of the world, 


with the images made like to perishable mortals, and even of 
beasts, and birds, and reptiles, which were worshipped by their 
heathen neighbours. Their law kept them from social inter- 
course with them, though it permitted commercial dealings, 
and they all scrupulously remitted their annual offering to the 
Temple. They had been long the light-bearers in a dark 
world, and their Scriptures, translated into Greek under the 
Egyptian kings, were accessible to the educated heathen. 
An unacknowledged perusal of them probably made the 
philosophers of Alexandria wiser than those of Athens, as 
the reflected light of the Gospel improved the morals of the 
later Stoics and Platonists. It was a great advantage the 
Apostles had over our missionaries, that in almost every idol- 
atrous city there was, as it were, a foreign colony, fearing 
the true God, and acquainted, at least partially, with the 
prophecies of the Messiah. Accordingly we find, that 
St. Paul always first addressed them. Their prejudices, 
however, in most instances more than counterbalanced these 
advantages. The Apostles turned to the Gentiles, and they, 
not the children of the promise, were the majority of the 
believers. Some of the many Jews converted on this feast 
of Pentecost, would take back to their homes this in- 
estimable good news of justification through faith in 
the atoning sacrifice of Christ, which otherwise, humanly 
speaking, might not have reached for years the places in 
which they dwelt. It was apparently introduced thus 
silently into the capital itself, for when Paul addressed his 
Epistle to the Romans, they had not been visited by any of 
the Apostles. 

It seems to have been arranged, that this memorable first 
effusion of the Holy Spirit, by falling upon the day already 
the Lord's, because marked by his resurrection, should con- 
secrate it as the Christian sabbath, by commemorating at 
once his personal triumph, and the promulgation of the Faith. 
As, according to the Jewish reckoning, the day begins with 
c 2 


the evening, the expression, ' iully come,' means that it was 
on the following morning. The Apostles were assembled, I 
assume, in their upper chamber. The probable size cannot 
be objected, as no room would have held the whole multitude, 
whom the supernatural blast brought together. They seem 
to have surrounded the house ; and the Apostles- must have 
gone out to them. As Peter is said to have stood up with 
the rest, I conclude that all addressed at once several com- 
panies to the same effect in their own languages, though the 
substance of his discourse alone is preserved. 

In the infancy of the world, the presumption of men had 
brought on them as a punishment the confusion of speech, 
which has ever been the great obstacle to a general com- 
bination. A miracle of a contrary nature was now vouch- 
safed to facilitate for a season their reunion. The first 
rendered men at once unintelligible to one another, the 
second enabled them to communicate their thoughts in 
tongues which they had never known. Two external signs 
of the descent of the Holy Ghost were granted, the one 
to the ear, the other to the eye. Air in motion is the 
best emblem of his invisible operations, and the metaphor 
is common probably in all languages. Certainly, both in 
Hebrew and Greek, the same word according to the con- 
text is to be rendered ivind or spirit. The comparison 
was used by our Lord in his conversation with Nicodemus ; 
and after his resurrection, he had breathed on the disciples, 
saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Such a sign, therefore, 
from heaven would lead the Apostles to expect the fulfil- 
ment of their Master's promise, while it served to bring 
together witnesses of the miraculous effusion of his gifts. 
The other sign was the resting on them of tongues of fire, 
the effect probably of the electric fluid, but like the wind, 
though a natural pho^nomenon, miraculous, because pro- 
duced by a supernatural interference. They are called 
cloven in our translation, but the original word means. 


distributed among them, so that one lambent flame seems to 
have settled upon each. These tongues might denote at 
the same time the new languages with which they were en- 
dowed, and the fervent zeal with which they spoke them, and 
the enlightening and warming influence of their discourses 
upon others. The playing of a flame around the head with- 
out injuring it was, among the Greeks and Romans, a symbol 
of the Divine favour, and the same idea prevailed among the 
Rabbies ^. It is not clear whether the Apostles alone, or all 
the believers present, were the subjects of this miracle. 
The words are, " They were all in one place ;" and the doubt 
arises from the antecedent, for which we may go back either 
to the last verse of the preceding chapter, or to the fifteenth 
of this, which enumerates the 120 disciples and the women. 
The latter will better suit the prophecy quoted, "Your sons 
and daughters shall prophesy." Such was the opinion of 
the early Church; and in confirmation of it we may observe, 
that subsequently neither this nor the other miraculous 
gifts were limited to the Apostles. The efiect of this 
miracle was different on different persons. The strangers 
who heard them speak in their own various tongues were 
satisfied of its reality, others mocked them as drunkards; 
these were probably natives of Judaea, who undei-stood no 
language but their own, and would also be more prejudiced 
against Jesus and his Galilaean follovvei's. Peter arose to 
solve the wonder of the first, and to rectify the misrepre- 
sentations of the last. Whoever doubts the inspiration of 
Peter, would do well to compare him as he now appears with 

'' Thus Homer, Iliad, xviii. 214. 

'Cis air 'AxiW^os Ke(pa\rji ffeKas aldip" 'iKave. 
And Virgil, iEn. ii. 683. 

Ecce levis summo de vertice visus luli 
Fundere lumen apex, tactuque inuoxia molles 
Lambere ttamma comas, et circum tempora pasci. 
" Wheu these learned men studied the Scriptures, fire shone round them 
as on Sinai at the promulgation of the Law." Scha'tgen. tlorrr. Heb. 


what he so lately was. He who on the first appearance of danger 
had shrunk from the scrutinising glance of a maid-servant, 
and had thrice denied his Master, now boldly came forward 
as the ambassador of God, not only declaring that Master to 
have been approved among them by miracles, but even 
reproached their rulers with crucifying him whom God had 
made both Lord and Christ, He first exposed the absurdity 
and malignity of the charge of drunkenness at nine o'clock 
in the morning, the very hour of the Temple service, which 
the devout attended fasting, and which we know was Peter's 
own practice in his private devotions. (Acts x, 9.) He then 
stated, that this gift of tongues was the commencement 
of the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of 
the Holy Spirit in " the last days," which here, as in other 
passages of Scripture, mean the Gospel dispensation. He next 
reminded them of the awful signs and portents which ac- 
cording to the same Prophet were to precede the destruction 
of the impenitent and unbelieving part of the nation, in the 
great and terrible day of impending vengeance. For their con- 
solation, however, these denunciations were tempered with 
mercy in the gracious promise of salvation or deliverance, 
to whoever would with faith and repentance call upon the 
name of the Lord. He then proceeded to declare who that 
Lord was, even Jesus of Nazareth, a person pointed out to 
them by God, by the miracles which he had wrought by 
him whom they, notwithstanding, had crucified through the 
agency of the Gentiles, and thus unwittingly fulfilled the 
predetermined counsel of God. He then affirmed that God 
had raised him again to life, fulfilling another prophecy, (Ps. 
xviii. 4, 5.) in having loosened the jiuins'^ of death, because he 
could not be holden by it. This fact, which was the point 
at issue, he establishes by an appeal to a Psalm (xvi. 10.) 
of David, which he shows could not have been accomplished 

« This is the Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew word, which properly 
ujeaiis bonds. 


in that Patriarch himself; because confessedly, his body had 
seen corruption, and his soul had been left in the place of 
departed spirits, but was fulfilled in this his Son ; and he 
supports this interpretation by this miraculous gift of 
tongues, this shedding forth of which shewed that Jesus 
had been exalted to a seat at God's right hand. And, 
according to another prophecy of the same Patriarch, (ex.) 
it was not himself but this his Lord who was now raised 
to that place of honour, till his enemies were made his 
footstool. Thus Peter connects the Resurrection with the 
Ascension, the first as proved by its chosen witnesses, 
the second by the gift of tongues which they had now 
heard. The same prophecy was afterwards urged for the 
same purpose to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia by the 
Apostle Paul. Never did the most eloquent or studied 
speech produce such an eflfect as this most convincing 
address, which was no sermon, that is, no doctrinal discourse 
or exhortation deduced from it, but a simple statement of 
facts, which he shewed to have been foretold in their own 
Scriptures, and demonstrated by this supernatural gift of 
tongues, which bore testimony to the glorification of him 
whom they had so lately crucified. The auditors were 
pricked to the heart, for the Spirit brought the accusation 
home to their consciences, and they anxiously enquired 
what they should do. Upon which Peter replied, that they 
should repent, and be baptized into the name of this very 
Jesus, whom they had so lately given up to death as a male- 
factor and a deceiver, and that they would not only be 
forgiven, but that they too would receive the gift of the 
same Holy Ghost, under whose influence he himself spake; 
and he encouraged them by adding, that the promise 
he had just cited from Joel was unto them and unto their 
children. Such conditions of salvation were new and strange 
to those who expected to recommend themselves to God by 
their own righteousness ; but a conviction of sin, shewing 
them that their own righteousness at the best was too 


defective and imperfect to be meritorious, made them 
willing to conform to the terms prescribed by God, which 
it taught them were the only ones that they could fulfil, 
Faith and Repentance. 

In addition to the address here fecorded, Peter exhorted 
them with many other words, the substance of which was, 
that they should embrace the Gospel, without waiting for 
the concurrence of their rulers or teachers ; and that they 
should thus save themselves from that untoward generation. 
Three thousand gladly received his word, and were baptized. 
As they were in the midst of a populous city, with no other 
stream than an insignificant torrent, at that season probably 
dry, we may assume that they were baptized not by im- 
mersion, but by affusion or sprinkling, especially since the 
baptism of the Holy Ghost is spoken of as poured out and 
shed forth. They were pricked in their hearts by the con- 
viction that they had crucified the Messiah; and Peter's 
declaration was attested by the strangers hearing these 
uneducated men speak in their own language. 

The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, so called, 
because, unlike the ordinary ones, granted only to a few, and 
only for a season, may now be briefly considered. 

The fullest account of them is found in St. Paul's First 

Epistle to the Corintliians, which opens (chap, xii.) with 

affirming in a remarkable passage the benefits bestowed upon 

the Church by the three Persons of the Trinity. There are. 

Diversities of Gifts, but one and the same Spirit. 

Administrations, but one and the same Lord. 

Operations, hut one and the same God. 

The Apostle then specifies the gifts, and afterwards the 
officers to whom they were appropriated; and I copy this 
tabular view from Lord Barrington's Miscellanea, from 
whom Bishop Horsley and Dr. Hales do not greatly differ. 

1. Word of wisdom. Apostles. 

2. Word of knowledge. Prophets in expounding of tht'Ol'! r<'-t;iiin'iit. 

3. Faith. Teachers of Christianity. 

4. ("lifts of healing. 


5. Working of miracles. 

6. Prophe?:ying. Helps, such as Mark, Tychicus, Onesimas. 

7. Discerning of Spirits. Governments. 

8. Tongues. 

9. Interpretation of tongues. 

They are thus specified in Mark's Gospel. 

1. The ejection of demons. 

2. The gift of tongijes. 

3. The handling of serpents without hurt. 

4. The drinking poisons with impunity. 

5. The cure of diseases. 

6. The restoration of life to the dead. 

The first and last had been conferred upon the Apostles 
on their original appointment, (Matthew x.) and also upon 
the Seventy, (Luke x. 17.) The handling of serpents was 
also granted to the latter; but Paul's shaking off the viper 
is the only Scriptural instance. 

No miraculous gift seems less liable to suspicion than speak- 
ing a foreign tongue, and it is more striking than the cure of a 
disease, the ejection of a demon, or even restoration to life ; 
for the former may be counterfeited, and a trance may be 
mistaken for death, but of the gift of tongues, all to whom these 
tongues are native can judge without the possibility of error; 
and the efiect of a variety of them spoken at once, might well 
produce the result of this Pentecostal miracle. Before this 
efinsion, the d,iversity of tongues must have seemed to the 
Apostles to present an insurmountable obstacle to their com- 
mission. "What hope of success to those who spoke only a 
tongue, the use of which was confined within the narrow limits 
of Palestine. " How," to adopt the words which Eusebius 
(Dem. Ev. iii.) puts into their mouths, " shall we proclaim 
salvation to the Romans, or converse with the Egyptians ? 
What language shall we, who have been brought up in the 
Syriac alone, speak to Greeks ? How shall we address Persians 
and Armenians, Chaldseans, Scythians, Indians, or any other 
nation of the barbarians?" On this memorable feast, a variety 
of nations bore testimony ; a testimony, which from its 


nature cannot be contradicted, to the reality of the miracle; 
and yet there are modern Christians who endeavour to ex- 
plain it away. But it is by torturing the text in a manner 
that would not be endured, in explaining a profane author. 
Others would lower it, by attempting to show that the gift 
was granted only on this one occasion. But the Acts them- 
selves refute this assumption ; for we read, that it was con- 
ferred upon Cornelius and his companions previous to their 
baptism ; and the Epistles to the Corinthians show that it 
was not uncommon in their congregations. There it might 
seem superfluous, if we did not recollect that the original 
city had been razed to the ground, and that Roman Corinth 
was a Latin colony called Julia, after its. celebrated founder, 
the first Caesar ; and being the seat of the proconsular go- 
vernment, it must have contained many inhabitants who 
could only imperfectly understand Greek. Let those who 
represent it as a temporary gift, as it were, exhibited only to 
be withdrawn, consider Warburton's remark, that once con- 
ferred, it becomes a natural power, just like the use of a 
limb restored by a miracle. Indeed, to have lost it after a 
temporary use would imply another miracle, for it must 
have been by actual deprivation, unless we suppose them 
mere irrational organs through which divine sounds were 
conveyed. The unwillingness to believe this miraculous 
gift in its fullest extent, arises in part from the notion, that 
a knowledge of Greek was sufficient for the propagation 
of Christianity, and that Greek was so generally prevalent 
in Palestine, that the Apostles probably spoke it without in- 
spiration. Those who maintain these opinions, must narrow 
their view to the eastern division of the Roman Empire ; 
for Latin, not at all known to the Apostles, was indispensable 
for the western provinces ; and they forget, that though the 
sacred narrative is confined to that portion of the world, 
we have reason to believe from other sources of information, 
that the primitive believers carried the Gospel beyond its 


limits, and other languages were required on the further side 
of the Euphrates. Greek, it is true, was the language of 
literature; and through the Macedonian conquests had been 
spread over Syria and Egypt ; but still even there the native 
languages prevailed among the lower and middle classes. 
Chrysostom informs us, that even in his time Greek was not 
understood in Antioch by the people of the country ; and the 
fact is estabhshed by the early versions of the Scriptures into 
Syriac and Coptic. In Palestine, Greek was clearly not 
genei-ally understood ; and the Gospels show, that our Lord 
spoke a dialect of Syriac, which is commonly called Hebrew ; 
and this appears from the inscription over the Cross, w^hich 
would not have been written in that tongue if those in Latin 
and Greek had been generally intelligible. The Apostle, 
with whose missions we are most familiar, must have learnt 
Greek in the ordinary way ; but even he traversed countries, 
where he must have felt the want of other languages. 
Greek would have been of little use to him if he visited Spain 
or Britain; and even in Asia Minor, we hear of the Lycaonian 
tongue. St. Jerome tells us, that the Celtic was still spoken 
in his time by the Galatians, who were the descendants of 
Gallic invaders; and the bilingual inscriptions from Patara 
in the British Museum show, that there must have been a 
local language in Lycia. Cappadocia, Phrygia, and Lydia, 
had also their own tongues. A comprehensive review of the 
language then spoken will be found in the fifth of Milman's 
Bampton Lectures'^. 

•= He brings forward as a curious confirmation, if not of the necessity yet of 
the probable utility of this gift, or, to say the least, a comment on the general 
belief of the Church in its reality, the imitation of the miracle by those, 
who, after the manner of the Apostles, went about the world converting 
their hearers to a new system of belief. " Indeed," says Damis, addressing 
ApoUonius of Tyana, as to the languages of the barbarians, " as many as 
they are, I have a knowledge of them all ; and I, my friend, says ApoUonius, 
understand them all, having learnt none." Philostratus, i. 19. This Life 
was not written till a century after his death, (though he was contemporary 
with the Apostles,) at the request of the Empress Julia Domna, to oppose the 


The Romanists maintain, that this power is still from time to 
time exhibited, and it is included, by their great contro- 
versialist Cardinal Bellarmin, among the notes of the true 
Church. The miracles however which they produce are 
most unsatisfactory ; and Bishop Douglas's Criterion will 
supply the reader with a complete confutation. How long 
they continued it is impossible to ascertain. Irenaeus speaks 
of the gift of tongues from hearsay, though in Gaul he might 
seem himself to have been a suitable subject for it ; and in- 
deed, though in that and in subsequent ages it was believed 
to be inherent in others, we read of no saint who claimed 
it for himself. Chrysostom seems to acknowledge, that in 
his time they were exercised by none. Various periods 
for their cessation have been suggested, as the conversion of 
the Roman empire, or the extinction of the Arian heresy; 
but I acquiesce in what appears to me to be the more rea- 
sonable supposition of Gibbon, that these supernatural gifts 
were limited to the xApostles, and those to whom they im- 
parted them. They would, we may suppose, cease with the 
need for them. On the opening of a new dispensation, they 
were required to confirm the word, (Mark xvi. 20.) as the 
credentials of those who proclaimed it. This testimony from 
heaven fixed the attention of the heathen, (Acts xiv. 11.) and 
the gift of tongues was a sign to them that believed not ; 
but it is the doctrine that is to enlighten the understanding, 
and to renew the heart. And these miracles, as recorded in 
the Scriptures, ought to be as convincing to us, as if they 
had been wrought in our streets. The Protestant divines of 
a former age have supposed, that under circumstances similar 
to those of the Apostles, these gifts would be renewed ; 
but time has shewn that they were mistaken. The modern 

Christians. He had been ridiculed by Lucian twenty years before, and no 
use was made of his pretended miracles, for the disj)aragement of Chris- 
tianity, until llierocles. Governor of Bithynia, and a leading persecutor 
under Diocletian, conceived the design. 


missionary has the acquisition of a difficult language to ex- 
ercise his faith, into which he will often be perplexed how to 
introduce the words that are essential to the conveyance of 
religious knowledge. But, on the other hand, he has ad- 
vantages even over the Apostles, for he comes from a land of 
higher civilisation, with superior knowledge of every descrip- 
tion ; while, above all, he has the sword of the Spirit in the 
whole written word, which, rightly used, will prove a dis- 
coverer of the thoughts and intents of the heart. While gifts 
arrest attention, it is the ordinary grace that convinces us of 
sin, and directs the awakened conscience to the Deliverer 
from its penalty and its power. It was so in the primitive 
times. Christ crucified was found at Corinth, by as many as 
were called, to be the power of God and the wisdom of God ; 
and Paul was not ashamed to declare to the Romans the 
whole counsel of God ; justification and sanctification through 
faith, before they had received any spiritual gift. 

They were added to the saved^ ; and their conduct evinced 
that they might in the judgment of charity be so con- 
sidered, for they are described as passing their time in the 
Temple, and continuing stedfast in the Apostle's doctrine 
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer. The 
expression, breaking of bread, is to us ambiguous, and has 
been interpreted of ordinary food, and more generally of the 
Lord's Supper. Both I conceive are meant ; for as that Sacra- 
ment was instituted after a meal, it was originally combined 
with one, as appears from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 
(chap. X.) Such was the piety of the first Christians; and 

<■ 'Zaiioiiivou Not, 'should be saved,' as rendered by our translators, who 
seem to have deferred to the authority of the Vulgate, but * the saved,' as they 
render it in other places, as the Gospel is the power of God unto us who are 
saved. (1 Cor.i. 18.) As the Catechism expresses it, ' this state of salvation,' 
not (as from the language of many they seem to think) a state of expectation, 
but of possession of the privileges of the Gospel ; but the belief should be 
guarded as by the Catechism, which goes on to say, " And I pray unto God 
to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same to my life's end." 


their benevolence towards their brethren showed itself by the 
sale of their property, and throwing it into a common stock. 
The presence from distant lands of so many converts, who 
probably brought no more than enough to defray their ex- 
penses, and might wish to lengthen their stay, perhaps sug- 
gested this arrangement. Their conversion would cut them 
off from general charity, and from any participation of the 
Temple sacrifices. Whatever was the cause, it appears from 
the decree of the Council, and from St. Paul's regulations in 
all the Churches of his planting, that the Jerusalem believers 
especially needed the aid of their wealthier brethren. 

A community of goods from Plato to Sir Thomas More 
has been a favourite speculation with philosophers, and an 
attempt to realise it has often been made by missionary en- 
thusiasts of more feeling than judgment, especially when 
agreeing in a system of doctrines, the object of which is to 
mark the superior importance of eternal to temporary things ; 
for this self-denying liberality would give the sincere more 
leisure to devote themselves to a contemplative life, while 
the designing, if such, like Ananias, intruded themselves 
among them, would manage the common property to their 
own personal advantage. The idea is pleasing alike to the idle 
and the contemplative, and attempts have been continually 
made to realise it, from the early monastic institutions to the 
establishment of the Mormons, and the communities of 
Owen and the Socialists. The Christians of Jerusalem had 
an example before their eyes in the Essenes, and it may be 
that some of them were among these converts, and encoiiraged 
this system, for they would be, unlike the Pharisees and 
Sadducees, predisposed in favour of the Gospel. We have 
an account of them in Philo and Josephus, and some moderns 
have even considered them, but I think without reason, as 
Christians. They were divided inte two classes; 1. the prac- 
tical, who lived in the world, and even married ; and, 2. the 
contemplative, who formed what may be called a monastic 


society, and were called Therapeutas, that is, curing diseases 
of the soul. They shunned cities, and sacrificed no living 
creatures, but sent presents to the Temple. They led a life of 
celibacy and asceticism, and were most rigid in the observance 
of the Sabbath ; they are not named in the Gospels, it is sup- 
posed because that from their retired life they did not come 
into our Saviour's way ; but it is thought they are referred to 
by St. Paul, when he condemns voluntary humility, and 
neglecting the body, touch not, taste not, handle not, though it 
seems more likely that in Colosse he would refer to Gnostics. 
Such a community, at least on a large scale, must be un- 
favourable in a national point of view, and would, by destroy- 
ing instead of regvilating the motives that govern human 
conduct, paralyze industry, and generate discontent. It seems 
also to contradict the scheme of Providence, which did not 
design us for such social unions, but for independent families, 
and must, as far as it operates, weaken the parental, filial, 
and conjugal ties, by which it was meant that society should 
be bound together ; reversing the plan of advancing from 
individuals to communities, and teaching the perhaps specious, 
yet really impracticable, scheine of the ancient philosophers, 
and of descending from patriotism to personal attachments, 
or, as some Christians speak, from the Church to its members, 
from the whole to the parts. For it is from individuals to 
the whole that the human soul must rise ; 

Love will first parent, wife, and child embrace, 
His country next, and next all human race. 

Or, in St. Peter's words^, the Christian will add to godliness, 
love of the brethren, and to that, charity, or love of mankind. 
This community of goods, deceivers have been eager to 
reproduce in all periods of religious or social movements, 
and visionaries have as readily accepted it from the Anabaptists 
of Luther's days, to the Mormonites of our own. We read 
of it in no other of the primitive Churches, and the Epistles 
« 2 Pet. ii. 7. 


recognise rich and poor as two permanent classes among 
believers, and while the most self-denying charity is enforced, 
the measure of it is left to discretion as each has prospered ; 
intimating, that as Godloveth a cheerful giver,they were not 
to give grudgingly, or of necessity, but as every man pur- 
posed in his heart. Even at Jerusalem this community was not 
enjoined ; it sprung out of spontaneous love to the brethren. 
It clearly did not last, and perhaps it is interpreted too 
rigidly ; for it is clear from Peter's speech to Ananias, that 
it was optional ; to use the phraseology of a later day, it was 
an imperfect duty, it was a counsel of perfection. 

The next event recorded is the miraculous cure, by Peter 
and John, of a lame man, lying for alms at the beautiful 
gate of the Temple, and it is recorded because of its im- 
portant results. "We have here the seal of God set to the 
divine mission of the Apostles, as it had been before so 
often to that of his beloved Son. They had spoken, and 
now they acted in the name of him svho had been crucified. 
This was evidence adapted to the meanest capacity, and 
convincing to the highest, and there was nothing like artifice 
or delusion that could discredit the miracle. The cripple 
resided in Jerusalem, that is, in the midst of the enemies of 
Christianity; he had been lame from his birth, and was now 
upwards of forty years old. Many had relieved, and more 
had seen him, for he was carried daily, not to an obscure 
corner, but to the entrance of the Temple, and the miracle 
took place at the hour of morning sacrifice, and therefore in 
the presence of many worshippers. His walking is a proof 
of the completeness of the cure, his praising God was the 
proper imijrovement of it. The cure was instantaneous, 
and so perfect, that he not only walked, but leaped for joy. 
The rulers could not deny the fact, but they would not be- 
lieve; because they hated the doctrine which it accredited. 
Similar miracles were wrought by the Apostles and by 
Jesus, but the manner of working shewed the diflference 


between the Master and the servants, between inherent and 
delegated power. His language was that of Sovereignty : and 
he never hesitated to receive as his due the homage in con- 
sequence offered to him; but his Apostles are anxious to 
disclaim any honour, except that of being liis instruments. 
JVht/, said Peter, look ye so earnestly at us, as if hy our own 
power or holiness we had made this man to ivalk. This 
difference can only be explained upon the supposition of 
our Lord's Divinity. Peter proceeded to say, that faith in 
the name of Jesus, the Author of life, whom they had killed, 
but God had raised from the dead, had given the cripple 
his present soundness. In his first speech he ascribed the 
condemnation of the Messiah more to the Romans, ha x-^^^^ 
dvofjt,cov : in this he grew bolder, and charged them with it 
directly, even against the Governor's desire to acquit him. He 
apologized for their crime, by their own ignorance and that of 
their rulers of the real character of the Messiah, through which 
they had unwittingly fulfilled the prophecies of his suffer- 
ings, which God had foretold by the mouth of all his prophets. 
And he admonished them to repent, and be converted, and to 
wait for the fulfilment of the divine promises in the seasons 
of refreshment, and times of restitution, at his second coming 
in glory. He impressed on them the necessity of immediate 
repentance and reformation, because Jesus was the prophet 
like unto Moses, to all whose instructions they were bound 
to hearken, under the penalty of being cut off by God from 
his people. He reminded them of their high privileges as 
sons of the prophets, and heirs of the covenant, and declared 
that God had raised up to them a Saviour, whom he had 
sent to bless believers in his mission, not with temjDoral 
greatness, as they, misconceiving the prophecies, flattered 
themselves, but with a spiritual deliverance from the do- 
minion of sin. So convincing was this speech, that it raised 
the number of the believers to 5000, for the word Iyevvjj9>j (i v. 4.) 
favours this opinion, and the use of avlge? instead of otvSgwTrot, 



seems to exclude women. The Apostles continued speaking 
till evening, when they were interrupted, and committed to 
custody. In the morning, the high priest and his kinsmen, 
Caiaphas and others, interrogated them. The Pharisees had 
been our Lord's chief opponents ; but now, the Sadducees 
were more set upon persecuting his followers than their 
rivals, since the testimony of the Apostle to his resurrection 
directly contradicted their denial of that doctrine. Peter, 
undaunted, and, as we are told, under the influence of the 
Holy Spirit, replied to their interrogatories, and announced 
that the cripple stood before them cured througli the name 
of Jesus, whom they had crucified ; and declared him to be 
the stone, which, though rejected by the builders, had be- 
come the head of the corner, as predicted in the hundred 
and eighteenth Psalm, which he, in his last discourse in 
the Temple with his enemies, had applied to himself. 
Peter then passed from his power of saving the body, 
that is healing, to that of saving the soul, adding, that there 
was no other name under heaven by which men could be 
saved. The rulers could not deny the miracle ; and as the 
people favoured the Apostles, they did not venture on punish- 
ing them, but dismissed them, commanding them not to teach 
in the name of Jesus. They answered respectfully, yet with 
determination, that they could not but speak the things 
that they had seen and heard. Being dismissed, they went 
to their own company, and related what had passed ; when 
all with one consent burst forth into praise and thanksgiving 
to God, for fulfilling the second Psalm, respecting the un- 
availing persecution of the Messiah, both by the Jews and 
Romans; and prayed, not to be protected from danger, but 
to be endued with boldness to speak the word, and that God 
would confirm it by miracles. Their energetic supplication 
was heard, the place was shaken as on the day of Pentecost, 
and they were all filled with an abundant communication of 
the Holy Spirit, so that they preached tlie word witli all 


boldness, not at all dismayed by the menaces of their 

The charitable contributions were now continued with 
more spirit than before. Those who had land and houses 
sold them ; and they might be led by the Spirit to foreknow 
that no permanent settlement of the Church was to be 
expected in Judaea, on account of its impending desolation. 
This state of the primitive believers is illustrated by the 
example of a Levite of Cyprus, surnamed Barnabas, that is, 
son of consolation or exhortation, who became afterwards an 
Apostle to the Gentiles, and now having land sold it, and 
laid the money it fetched at the Apostles' feet. His genuine 
love of the brethren is brought out into full light by the 
contrast it exhibits to the hypocrisy of Ananias and his wife 
Sapphira, the next incident recorded. The task they had under- 
taken of serving both God and mammon was impracticable. 
They sought to enjoy the reputation of a sacrifice which 
they had not the heart to make, and secreted a part of the 
purchase money, and gave the rest, as if it were the whole. 
They sought to obtain equal credit with those who had 
given all; and this deception might even be profitable, 
since it entitled them to maintenance out of the common 
stock. It was an awful sin, not occasioned by strong 
temptation, but deliberately undertaken by mutual agree- 
ment, and is called by Peter the suggestion of the evil 
Spirit. Such gifts were not obligatory; for, as he told 
Ananias, the field he might have kept, or if he sold it, he 
might have retained the price. It was aggravated by the 
time in which it was committed, and by the Person whom 
they attempted to deceive, which, as they were told, was not 
man but God. It was, says Doddridge, a sin directly 
levelled against the Holy Ghost himself, in the midst of his 
astonishing train of extraordinary operations. The Holy 
Spirit, as the Protector of the Church, took cognizance of 
the crime, by the means of that faculty of discerning spirits 
D 2 


with which lie endued Peter, and punished Himself both the 
offenders in the death on the spot. Some infidels, as 
Porphyry, have presumed to blame Peter, not choosing to 
see that the death of these hypocrites was not caused by 
him, but by the immediate interference of the Deity. He 
merely announced what he was inspired to know would 
take place; and if God had not been pleased to interfere, 
his announcement would have done them no harm. His 
speech is so expressed, as to prove the personality and 
divinity of the Holy Spirit. Why has Satan filed thy heart 
to lie to the Holy Ghost: and, thou hast not lied unto meii, 
hut unto God. This signal interference in punishing two 
detected hypocrites produced a reverential fear in the whole 
body of believers; the consequence was, that no one dared to 
join them from unworthy motives ; it tended also to render 
the Gospel honourable in the eyes of the people, and a succes- 
sion of miracles, the sick being healed, and the possessed freed 
from their tormentors, even by the shadow of Peter passing- 
over them in the streets, contributed greatly to multiply 
the Church. This example of the Divine judgment was 
not upon avowed enemies, but upon false friends, and was 
expedient at the first promulgation of Christianity to 
strengthen the authority of the Apostles. The introduction 
of the Mosaic covenant was in like manner marked by the 
death of two sons of Aaron, vv^ho presumed to act as priests, 
in a manner contrary to what Jehovah had commanded. 

The Apostles were now cast into the common prison: but 
in vain did the high priest and the other Sadducees fight 
against God. Their obstinacy only called forth in their favour 
an interposition of the Almighty. An Angel oj^ened the doors, 
and commanded them to appear in the temple. While the 
prison was guarded, and the Council were deliberating what 
they should do with them, the Apostles were at liberty, and 
publicly teaching. They sent for them, but without using 
violence, for fear of the people. Being again prohibited 


from teaching in the name of Jesus, Peter boldly replied, 
that they must obey God rather than man, and charged 
them with crucifying the Messiah. This intrepid answer, 
stating briefly, yet powerfully, their credentials, vouching 
Christ's ascension by their own witness, and the infallible one 
of the Holy Spirit with which they were endued, cut them to 
the heart as with a saw {hsTrplovro), and they consulted to slay 
them; but they were dissuaded by Gamaliel, a Pharisee, who 
recommended them to wait to see the result of their preach- 
ing, since if it were a scheme of human ambition, it would 
come to nought, like the insurrections of Theudas", and after- 
wards of Judas of Gtdilee, at the time of Cyrenius's census ; 
but if it were of divine origin, they could not overthrow it. 
They scourged them for disobedience, with fresh injunctions 
not to speak in the name of Jesus ; but they ceased not both 
in the temple and at home to proclaim him as the Messiah, re- 
joicing they were honoured in being disgraced for his name. 
Gamaliel is highly venerated even now among the Jews. 
He is said to have been the son of the aged Simeon, who 
took our Lord in his arms in the temple, and hailed him by 
inspiration as the promised Saviour. His advice then might 
in part arise from some leaning towards Christianity ; in part 
perhaps from a less worthy feeling of dislike of the Sadducees, 
who appear now as the ruling sect. St. Paul, on a future 
occasion, the disciple of Gamaliel, availed himself of this 
hostile feeling before the Council, and was supported by the 
Pharisees present upon the very plea urged by Gamaliel ; 
Tf a spirit or an angel spake unto him, let us not fight 
against God. 

This original Christian community was composed of native 
Jews, and of such as, from their dispersion among the Greeks 
(Hellenes), used the Greek language, and were therefore 

a A Theuclas, who ffiiled, and was beheaded, is mentioned by Joscphus, 
(Ant. XX. 5.) who places him fourteen years hiter ; but it was so common a 
name, that we may easily imagine it it was borne by some of the in- 
surgents, who rebelled on the death of Herod the Great. 


called Hellenists. The great and rapid accession to the 
Church and the enlargement of its funds, would soon render 
it difficult to afford a proper supply to all, and must engross 
in a secular work the time of the Apostles, which ought to 
be employed in the far higher office of promoting the eternal 
salvation of their countrymen. The task, however conducted, 
was a delicate one, as well as laborious. Daily ministration 
and serving tables seem to imply, that relief was afforded not 
in money, but in provisions. There might have been in the 
several quarters of the city frugal meals, like the public 
tables of the Cretans and Spartans. Some think that the 
Apostles had already under them Jewish assistants, though 
they undertook a general superintendence of this work of 
charity. As the greater part of the property must have 
been contributed by the Hebrews, the Apostles, or those 
who acted under them, might think that they ought to 
favour their widows. They were charged with partiality, 
and the Apostles, to allay the discontent, assembled the 
congregation, and stating that they would give themselves 
to their more appropriate office of praying and teaching, 
invited them to choose seven persons, whom they themselves 
would appoint as almoners, by setting them apart with 
prayer and the imposition of hands. As all the names are 
Greek, the seven seem to have been selected out of that 
part of the Church which had complained, and some think 
that they were only appointed to look after their own 
widows. We know nothing of the history of any but 
Stephen and Philip : for Nicolas is too common a name, to 
justify our assuming with some that their associate was 
the author of the heresy of the Nicolaitans, who our Lord, 
in his Epistle dictated to the Ephesians, declares to be 
odious to Himself as well as to them^. Deacon means a 
person who serves in any capacity ; and both the noun and 
the verb occur frequently in the New Testament in a secular 
sense. It is mucli disputed whether or not this was the 
'■ Rev. ii. 6, 


origin of the Diaconate. The language of the Apostles, that 
they would not serve at tables, haMvilv rguTrsi^aig, apparently 
marks it as a civil office; on the other hand, we know 
that two of them, Stephen and Philip, acted as Evan- 
gelists, whether in consequence of this or another appoint- 
ment is not clear ; but I incline to think, that they were 
ecclesiastical deacons, for if the distribution of charity had 
been their sole occupation, the Apostles would hardly have 
required as a qualification that they should be full of the 
Holy Ghost, or have admitted them to their office in so 
solemn a manner. This is one of the questions in which the 
opinion of early commentators would have much weight, 
but they are divided ; nor is it so important as it may seem 
to be at first sight to determine it ; for whenever this order 
of Deacons was instituted as the first step in the Ministry, 
we know that it was in existence when St. Paul wrote to 
Titus and to the Philippians, and that it has ever since 
continued in the Church. Luke adverts to the institution 
apparently not on its own account, but as introductory 
to the martyrdom of Stephen. He therefore does not 
enlarge upon the duties of the office; and omits altogether 
the more important order of Presbyters, rendered in our 
version Elders, which he assumes to be known to his readers ; 
for when they first occur in his narrative, he only incidentally 
obsei'ves, that through them the believers in Antioch sent 
their alms for the poor saints of Jerusalem. It formed there- 
fore no part of his design to enter upon a subject as well un- 
derstood by his contemporary readers as by himself; yet such 
an account as can be collected from the Acts and the Epistles 
may be desirable for those for whom these Lectures are 
chiefly intended, and therefore I insert the following. 

Sketch of the Constitution of the Primitive Church. 
Religion is a personal concern, and the Son of God was 
incarnate, that through his atoning sacrifice of himself he 


might be the Saviour from wrath and punishment of every 
penitent transgressor who comes unto him for pardon and 
acceptance. Still as man is born into the world not a solitary 
individual, but a member of the state, so Baptism admits 
him into the company of believers, called Ecclesia, which is 
sometimes rendered Congregation, sometimes Church, and 
with them he unites in worship. And that the Lord viewed 
all that should believe in his name as one great family, 
appears from his declaring, that he would build his Church 
upon the confession of his divinity, and that it should last 
for ever ; and from his prayer, that they might be a brother- 
hood distinguished by unity. The promised Comforter 
descended upon the Apostles and other disciples, not as 
scattered here and there, but when they tvere oil with one 
accord in one place; and thenceforth it was the rule of the 
divine administration to add to the Church those who liad 
been brought into a state of salvation. A religious like a 
secular society must be under some administration. The 
earlier introductory dispensation had a ivorldly sanctuary, 
made according to the pattern shewn to Moses in the mount, 
and had both a ministry of sacrificing priests of divine 
appointment, and victims to be offered up on various occa- 
sions, as accurately detailed by Moses. That system was 
revealed in its integrity, and admitted of no alterations; but 
the Christian Church, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, 
was left to grow up and enlarge itself as circumstances 
required. For a time it existed without a formal polity, 
under the presidency of its natural leaders, the Apostles ; 
till the accession of disciples led them, no doubt under the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit, to form a separate order in the 
Ministry, to whom they delegated certain duties, which they 
had hitherto discharged themselves. For several years after 
this appointment of Deacons, the Apostles acted as the sole 
governors, and in a great degree as the teachers of the con- 
gregation, and conductors of the public worship. But even 


in the mother Church, it soon became necessary to unite 
others in their spiritual office ; and when Churches were 
formed in other countries by the Apostles, who assumed a 
missionary character, it became indispensable to place them 
under ministers, whom they called, in deference for their 
age. Presbyters, that is. Elders, and from their office, Bishops, 
that is. Superintendents. Thus the Church was permitted 
to develope her polity from within ; the want of an office 
was felt before it was supplied. It is still a popular notion, 
that the Christian Ministry was shadowed forth under the 
High Priest, Priests, and Levites, of the Jewish dispensation; 
and even as early an author as Clement of Rome uses this 
language. The theory of a Christian hierarchy was soon 
introduced, and is adopted by Rome ; which maintains, that 
the Christian ministers are sacrificing priests, and that the 
Eucharist is their sacrifice, which peace-offering has superseded 
the bloody victims of the Law. This view has found favour 
with some Protestants, but it is not in harmony with the 
spirit of the Reformation, for the doctrine of sacrifice is 
essentially Jewish and Pagan. There are Protestants also 
who take the same views, but the consequences of the theory 
are essentially Roman Catholic ; and certainly the High 
Priest better represents an individual monarch like the 
Pope, than the aristocracy of an Episcopate, which prevailed 
in the earlier ages. Such a theory derives no countenance 
from the writers of the New Testament, who never apply 
the terms of the Law and its ordinances to the new covenant, 
except in a figure, and carefully avoid the use of words which 
would convey the idea of sacrificers. Thus the ministers are 
invariably called elders, and priest is a term reserved for the 
laity, the great body of believers. " Ye are," says St. Peter, 
(1 Pet. ii. 9.) "a royal priesthood;" and as a priest, according 
to the definition in the Epistle to the Ilebrews, (v. 1 .) musthave 
something to offer, our Connnunion Service, keeping up the 
analogy, teaches us to desire our heavenly Father to accept 


our " sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving;" and also the offer- 
ing of ourselves, which in St. Paul's language to the Romans 
is called " a reasonable, holy, and lively (living) sacrifice." It 
is manifest from the reasoning of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
that Jesus neither has, nor can have, a human successor; and 
the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change 
also in the law. Aaron is indeed the type of the High Priest 
of our profession, who by the one sacrifice of himself once 
made, and which never can be repeated, has made a full 
satisfaction for sin; and ever living as a Priest in heaven, 
has appointed no successor to act in his name, and bring 
him down continually as a victim to an altar on earth. 
History also contradicts this theory; for the Apostles set up 
no rival hierarchy, but continued with their followers to 
attend the services of the temple. So far were they from 
forming a new system, that, like the early followers of 
Wesley, their meetings for devotion were additional, and 
did not interfere with attendance at the stated sacrifices. 
They assumed no hostile attitude to these divinely-appointed 
ordinances, regarding them, probably much as Christians 
do the Lord's Supper, as commemorative types, differing 
only as they were prospective, and the latter looked back 
to what had been accomplished. They were considered 
therefore not as the introducing of a new religion, but of a 
new sect, that of the Nazarenes. The believers of Jewish 
origin could never, even if the Apostles wished it, have con- 
sented to break off their connection with the temple ; for 
James told Paul% that the "many tens of thousands" 
who believed in Jerusalem were all zealous for the law, and 
recommended him to take a part publicly in one of its con- 
spicuous ceremonies, that he might avoid giving offence, by 
shewing that he himself also walked according to the ordi- 
nances, and did not deem it inconsistent to comply as an 
Israelite with customs which he would be no ])arty in imposing 
» Acts xxi. 20. 


on Gentile believers. Still the Christian special worship did 
not originate with the Apostles, for the model was already 
extant, though not in the Temple, but in the Synagogue. 
The true God had selected a single spot for the sacrificial 
worship which he had himself ordained, but it was a duty 
in every place to render him the homage of prayer and 
praise. Buildings were in time (it is not recorded when) 
erected for this purpose, both in Judaea, and wherever 
Israelites were settled ; and as places of meeting, they ob- 
tained the Greek name of synagogues. In these buildings 
the Christians, even in Jerusalem, had been accustomed to 
meet for prayer and hearing the word of God, before they 
were brought to believe that Jesus was the Messiah; and after 
their conversion, it seems, from a passage in James's Epistle'', 
that they at first retained the name, (o-uvaywy^), though it soon 
yielded to that oi Ecclesia, that is, a meeting, and transferred 
in time from the assembly to the place in which it assembled. 
The transition was indeed slight, for though there would be 
a great difference, both in the feeling and language of him 
who believed in a glorified heavenly Messiah, and of him 
who expected only a victorious Prince, a human victim, one 
yet to come ; the service both of a Jewish and of a Christian 
synagogue was essentially the same, consisting of prayer, and 
reading and exposition of the word of God. In the latter, 
we know that the new Scriptures were added to the old, and 
the Eucharist, as a social commemoration, superseded the 
Paschal Supper, a family ceremony, and instead of being 
limited to a single evening, was generally celebrated when- 
ever they met, and was combined with their ordinary meal. 
The Synagogue and the Temple had no connection with each 
other, though the Jews worshipped in both, and the service 
of the former Vv^as conducted, not by the priests, but by 
rulers ; and they delegated at their discretion the oflice of 
reading and exhorting to whom they pleased. We find that 
'' James ii. 2. 


it excited no surprise when Jesus, though of the tribe not of 
Levi but of Juclah, stood up to read in the synagogue of 
Nazareth ; and we are told, that in that of Antioch of Pisidia, 
Paul and Barnabas, strangers, werecourteously invited, if they 
had any word of exhortation to the people, to say on. The 
Jewish Priesthood was an hereditary bod}', and their office was 
not to teach, but to sacrifice. To the Christian Ministry is 
assigned the teaching of the word of God. In the temple there 
was no pulpit, in the church there is no altar. When St. Paul 
established a congregation, he placed it under ministers 
whom he selected from the body of believers, and using 
synagogue terms, called them, indifferently from their age, 
presbyters, that is, elders ; orfrom thciroffice, superintendents, 
or bishops ; and they (as their followers have been since) 
were admitted into their office, not as the priests by 
anointing, but with prayer, and the imposition of hands. 
There are commentators of celebrity, and, strange to say, 
even of learning, who have discovered bishops, in the modern 
sense of the word, in the New Testament; but it requires 
little learning to show, that their zeal has outrun their judg- 
ment. Scott justly observes, that to assert, as some have 
done, that the elders of Ephesus, whom Paul sent for to 
Miletus, were indeed the diocesan bishops of all the Asiatic 
Churches, only exposes the cause which it is meant to support; 
for how could they have been got together at so short a notice. 
The statement would also show, that there were no presby- 
ters, and consequently asserts a parity of ministers directly 
contrary to the sentiments of those who make it. St. Paul, 
addressing these elders, (Trgecr^uTigoi,) charges them to take heed 
to tJiemselves, and to the Jlock over lohich the Holy Ghost has 
made them overseers, (eTr/o-xoTro*.) The two it was evident were 
then convertible terms ; for St. Paul directs his Epistle to 
Philippi, "To all the saints who are in Christ Jesus, with the 
bishops and deacons." These two are the only officers whom 
he instructs Timothy to appoint, and the qualifications are 



the same as those stated to Titus, as required in elders. 
The origin of the episcopate, as distinguished from the pres- 
bytery, appears to me to he thus fairly stated by Scott. 
Oi'iginally none of these leaders (^youjxsvoj) had any direct au- 
thority over the rest. But sincere ministers, and such as were 
most eminent for wisdom, ability, piety, or usefulness, would 
acquire a measure of influence, and their juniors, both in their 
own Church, and in others which had been planted from it, 
would naturally look up to them. Thus they would be ex- 
pected to take the lead in every business, especially in the 
ordination of ministers, in directing their labours, and in 
animadverting on such as turned aside to heretical doctrines 
or immoral practices. Hence the name of bishop, inspector, 
or overseer, seems gradually to have been appropriated to 
one principal minister, to whom a measure of authority and 
distinction was invariably annexed, and the title and rank of 
presbyter was continued to the rest. It is evident this pre- 
vailed generally and early in the primitive Church, in some 
places earlier than in others ; and it appears, from the Epistles 
of Ignatius, if genuine, to have been established in his time, 
and to have been regarded by him as of the first importance, 
since due submission to episcopal authority (with great respect 
also to the presbyters) seems, while he was looking forward 
to martyrdom, to have been the object he had chiefly at heart. 
This view is in conformity with the testimony of the presbyter 
Jerome, A.D. 392, who writes, that "until, through the in- 
stigation of the devil, factions grew up, and it began to be 
professed among the people, "I am of Paul, I of Apollos, and 
I of Cephas," Churches were governed by the common advice 
of presbyters ; but when every man began to reckon those, whom 
he had himself baptized, his own, and not Christ's, it was de- 
creed in the whole world, that one chosen out of the pres- 
byters should be placed above the rest, to whom all care of 
the Church should belong, and so the seeds of schism be 
removed. The introduction appears to have been gradual. 


and there is no trace of it in the Acts or in the Epistles. 
The mission of the Apostles was to confirm and plant 
. Churches, and in all they retained an episcopacy in their 
hands. But we know of Paul, and may reasonably conjecture 
of the rest, that their visits must have been rare to any, and 
to many were never repeated, and their presence was sup- 
plied by an occasional letter, or by an agent, such as Timothy 
and Titus, delegated for the purpose. Ecclesiastical writers 
call them bishops, and assign Ephesus to the former and 
Crete to the latter. They might indeed end their career as 
permanent bishops, but they appear in the New Testament 
as evangelists, deputed for a particular work, and then re- 
called. Long after the death of Paul and Peter, and probably 
all the other Apostles, the beloved disciple was banished to 
Patmos, and visited by his Lord, who dictated through him, 
apparently their general superintendent. Epistles to the Angels 
of the seven Churches of proconsular Asia ; Angel or Mes- 
senger, an individual ; it seems therefore a reasonable sup- 
position, that there was at that time one minister who pre- 
sided over the rest. To say the least, it could not have been 
displeasing to the Head of the Church, and it seems a fair 
inference, that it had been appointed, or at least approved, 
by his last surviving Apostle. 

As we have no Liturgy derived from the Apostles, and 
each branch of the Universal Church has availed itself of its 
liberty of instituting such rites and ceremonies as shall 
ajopear to it most edifying, so no form of ecclesiastical 
government is commanded ; and our own Reformers were 
content with defining the Church to be "a congregation of 
faithful people, in which the pure word of God is preached, 
and the sacraments be duly administered." (Art. xix.) 

The word of God, we are told, continued to increase ; 
and it is added as worthy of notice, that among the 
converts were many of the Priests. Stephen, one of these 
seven ministers, has the honour of being the first of the 


noble army of martyrs. He is said to have performed 
great miracles, which excited more especially against him 
the enmity of the unconverted Hellenists, of the synagogue 
of the Libertines'', Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, 
and other Asiatics, who disputed with him. They were 
confounded by his heavenly wisdom, and could not resist 
the spirit by which he spake. They had therefore re- 
course to a more eifectual method of silencing him, by 
suborning false witnesses, who charged him with blas- 
phemy, maintaining that they had heard him say, that 
this Jesus of Nazareth whom he preached would destroy the 
temple, and change the law. The members of the council 
before whom he had been brought, looking stedfastly at 
him, to discover if he betrayed any symptoms of guilt or 
fear, saw him calm and serene, with his face resembling that 
of an angel. The face of Moses shone with brightness after 
his second conference on Mount Sinai : and the Almighty 
might be pleased to distinguish this his faithful servant with 
the same sign of approbation, with which he had honoured 
his lawgiver, whom Stephen was accused of blaspheming. His 
defence is incomplete, for the multitude rushing upon him 
and stopping their ears, brought it to a premature con- 
clusion. Hence it is that the appropriateness of the discourse 

b Libertini is held by several critics, as Michaelis aud Bishop IMaish, to 
be the Latin word for freed men who had been slaves. That such persons 
might be numerous at Rome, in which there was a large colony of Jews 
is not surprising, but it is extraordinary to find so many of them as pro- 
selytes in Jerusalem. Townshend thinks the difficulty is removed by a 
passage in Tacitus, An. ii. that persons so characterised, and described by 
him as infected with foreign (Jewish?) superstition, were so numerous in 
the reign of Tiberius, that 4000 of them of age to bear arms were sent into 
Sardinia, and the rest were ordered either to renounce their religion, or to 
leave Italy. This account is confirmed by Suetonius ; but the date seems 
to me too late for them to have settled at Jerusalem, where I also think 
they would not have been allowed to come. As it was a joint synagogue 
possessed by them in common with the Alexandrians and Cyrenians, it seems 
to me more natural to interpret the word of an African city; and we loam 
from Suidas, that Libertus is the name of a place. 


is not sufficiently clear to the generality of readers, insomuch 
that some have not hesitated to affirm that we cannot ascertain 
.its tendency. His object was to show, that worship might "be 
pleasing in God's sight even without any visible temple or any 
ritual observances, and that he looks to the heart and dis- 
position of his worshippers. His proofs are adduced from 
the history of their nation, and he begins with their pro- 
genitor Abraham, showing that the glorious God had appeared 
unto him twice before he brought him iuto the holy land, of 
wliic'h he did not actually give him or his immediate de- 
scendants as much as a spot to set his foot on ; and that it 
was not till several centuries after their taking possession of 
their inheritance, that Solomon was permitted to build the 
house of whose honour they were so zealous. That house 
had superseded the moveable tabernacle erected by Moses 
in the wilderness after the model shewn him by God, and 
had been brought into the holy land, and j^et even David had 
desired to i*aise another; and Solomon himself in his dedi- 
cation of the house, and the prophet after him, corrected the 
gross popular notion of the Deity, as if the Most High, whom 
the heaven of heavens could not contain, could be confined 
within the precincts of a palace built with men's hands ^. 
He details the history of Moses with the more minuteness, 
in order to convict them of ingratitude. Thus he records 
the speech with which his attempt to mediate between two 
Israelites, who were striving together, was repelled, lllio 
made thee a ruler and a judge over us ? and their subsequent 
rejection of him, and repeated rebellions in the wilderness 
against Jehovah ; insinuating thereby that it was no new thing 
for the Israelites to reject a divinely-connnissioned leader, 
and purposely citing his prediction of the prophet like unto 
himself, who should be raised up out of their brethren, tliat 
is, who should be a legislator, which Peter had already applied 
to Jesus as the Messiah. We may collect, that he would 
•> Tsaiali Ixvi. 1 . 


have proceeded to show that this magnificent temple, of which 
thej boasted, like the moveable tent in the wilderness 
which preceded it, was but a temporary place of worship ; 
and that there was no blasphemy in affirming that it 
would be destroyed, when the purpose for which it 
had been erected was accomplished. They seem to have 
discovered his design, and probably showed such indications 
of anger and impatience, that he found he should not be 
permitted to make his application. He was therefore em- 
boldened and influenced by the Holy Spirit to judge, as it 
were, those who sat in judgment upon him ; for he had 
already convicted their ancestors of fighting against God, by 
a reference to their rebellions and idolatry for forty years in 
the wilderness; and he now addresses them as a stiffnecked 
generation, wdiich rested in the outward sign of the covenant, 
while their hearts and ears were uncircumcised. He told them, 
that, like their fathers, they always resisted the Holy Spirit, 
and imitated their persecution of the prophets, by murdering 
the Messiah, that Just One, whose coming they had foretold. 
He allows that they had received the law from God through 
the ministry of angels<= ; but this was the very aggravation of 
their sin, for they had not kept it. Stephen began his 
defence in calm and respectful language ; but all at once 
he changes his tone, and nothing can exceed the severity 
of his conclusion. Had we not been assured that he was 
at the time full of the Holy Ghost, we might be disposed 
to think him too vehement ; but he was inspired to bear 
this awful testimony, and thus to warn them against the 
destruction they were about to bring upon themselves. 
His dying prayer for his murderers proves that there was 
no want of charity towards them in his heart. This ac- 
« The narrative of Moses makes no mention of angels, yet this is not 
only the interpretation of Josephus, (Ant. xv. 5.) and of the Rabbis, but 
seems to be established by the similar Itinguaoe of the Epistle to the 
Galatians, (iii. 19.) ordained ihrouyh angels, and of that to the Hebrews, 
(ii. 2.) the word spoken hy angels. 



cusation goaded them on to madness, and they gnashed 
upon him with their teeth, like beasts of prey eager 
to devour him ; yet they could not convict him, for they 
could not deny the facts with which he reproached their 
ancestors. Undismayed, he looked up to heaven in testi- 
mony of his resignation and his hope, when by an 
extraordinary dispensation, such as had been occasionally 
granted to the ancient prophets, the evidence of sense was 
added to that of faith. He who was first called upon to seal 
his profession of faith with his blood, was favoured with an 
especial sign of the Divine approbation, to encourage others to 
be, like him, faithful unto death, and to assure them, that 
though they see not Jesus with their bodily eyes, as the proto- 
martyr did, yet he looks down with complacency upon 
their confession of him, and will receive them to their reward 
as they rise from the scaffold or the stake. Jesus is gene- 
rally represented as siti'nig at his Father's right hand ; but 
now he stands, as it were in the attitude of encouraging his 
faithful witness. Stephen's rapture was too strong to be 
suppressed, antl, he exclaimed, that he saw the heaven 
opened, and this despised Son of man, whom they had re- 
jected, standing on the right hand of God. Their passions, 
wound up to the highest pitch, now burst forth with un- 
governable fury. They cried out to drown his voice, and, 
stopping their ears lest they should hear more of what they 
called blasphemy, ran upon him with one accord, cast 
him out of the city, and stoned him. Notwithstanding the 
excess of their rage, they so far restrained themselves as to 
observe the forms of law. Thus he suffered tlie accustomed 
death of a blasphemer, and beyond the city ; and although 
all were eager to take a part in his death, they waited till the 
witnesses had cast the first stone. It seems therefore that, 
however iniquitous their conduct, he was not slain by a few 
zealots, but had been formally condemned by the council. 
Bishop Horsley says, he died a martyr to the divinity of 


Christ; certainly his last act was calling upon him as 
God''. There cannot be a more solemn act of religion than the 
committing to the care of any one the departing spirit ; and 
as his Master, whose example he followed in praying for his 
murderers, resigned his soul into his Father's hands, as a 
faithful Creator ; so he addressed that Master as God, saying, 
" Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." The Martyr teaches us by 
this act, that he regarded Jesus as possessing the same power, 
and entitled to the same honour, as his Father. His last 
words, a dying prayer for the pardon of his murderers, 
beautifully illustrates the Christian temper, and proves him 
to have been in love to man as well as in love to God, what 
every follower of Christ professes to be. His death was 
violent, yet it was so calm and peaceful, as to be expressed 
by the term, he fell asleep. 

This martyrdom presents a chronological difficulty. It 
might have been one of the last outrages that occurred 
during the timid administration of Pilate, who, if he had 
had time to interpose, would have been afraid of incurring 
the resentment of the council : or it might have happened 
before the arrival of a new Procurator ; for Vitellius, the 
governor of Syria, who attended the Passover A. D. S5, 
removed him on the complaint of the Samaritans, for 
putting some of that people to death in a sedition at Mount 
Gerizim; and he soon after deposed Caiaphas, transferring 
the priesthood to Jonathan, son of Ananias. The martyrdom 
of Stephen was the signal of a general persecution, which 
really promoted the progress of the faith, for believers were 
scattered abroad, and went every where proclaiming the ivord, 
except the Apostles. 

d Tt is to be regretted that our translators should have inserted, though 
in italics, the word God, as it directs the inattentive reader from the Son 
to the Father. 





Christianity, hitherto confined to Jews, was now to 
comprehend Samaritans. Philip, ranking apparently next 
to Stephen in zeal, went down to one of their cities, that we 
may presume where our Lord had conversed with the woman 
at Jacob's well. As he had passed two days there, and had 
expressly named Samaritans as within his commission to 
the Apostles, they availed themselves of the first opportunity 
of admitting them into the congregation of believers, not- 
withstanding the bigoted aversion of their countrymen to 
these aliens. The inhabitants gave heed unto Philip's teach- 
ing, and were converted by his various miracles. The Gospel 
also triumphed over the illusions of Simon, surnamed Magus 
or Conjuror, himself a Samaritan, who by his artifice had 
long kept the people in amazement; for the force of truth 
broke his charms, his admirers forsook him, and the im- 
postor himself was convinced that Philip acted by the 
divine power, to which he could only pretend, being as 
much amazed by his miracles as his own dupes had been by 
his magic ='. He behaved with such apparent ingenuous- 
ness, that Philip, being unsuspicious, baptized him. Peter 
and John were now sent down to communicate to the 
baptized Samaritans the supernatural gifts of the Holy 
Ghost, which was only conferred through the agency of 
the Apostles. John had once wished to call for fire from 
heaven to punish the Samaritans, for their inhospitality to 
his Master; and now they had become his disciples, he must 

a The English reader is led by tlie authorized Version to a belief in 
witchcraft, which is not justified by the orif?inal. JNIodifications of the same 
verb — i^laruv, i^fffraicevat, i^lffTaro — are used of the effects produced by Philip 
and Simon; but when referred to the former they are rendered wondered, 
when to the latter bcivifched. 


have rejoiced in being chosen to bestow on them miraculous 
powers. Simon betrayed his real character, by offering 
to purchase the gift which the Apostles gratuitously con- 
ferred on whom they pleased. Luke tells us that he be- 
lieved ; yet his offer shewed his ignorance of the spirit of 
the Gospel, and that though it might have convinced his 
understanding, it had not converted his heart ; and having, 
as Peter told him, neither part nor lot in this matter, he 
could not have been regenerated, since he had not rightly 
received that sacrament, not having fulfilled his conditions 
of the covenant, faith and repentance. 

The same Apostle says, in his first Epistle, that Baptism 
doth now save us, that is, puts us into a state of salvation ; 
but to show that the inward grace is not necessarily con- 
nected with the outward sign, but that man, to avail himself 
of the benefits of the covenant, must perform his part, he 
adds, not the putting away of the filth of the fiesh, hut the 
answer of a good conscience unto God. It is, as he began 
by saying, ?i figure of spiritual purification. Accordingly, 
on Paul's conviction of the truth of Christianity, and his 
bitter sorrow for his persecution of it, the commandment 
was given to him. Arise, and wash away thy sins, calling 
upon the name of the Lord. But when Simon betrayed 
his true character, showing that he did not possess the 
qualifications required, the same Peter declared, that 
baptism was to him no sacrament, but merely a badge 
of Christian profession''; for he indignantly replied. Thy 
silver perish tvith thee, because thou sujiposest that the gift 
of God cati be purchased with money. The rebuke is severe, 
yet it must be taken not as an imprecation, but as an alarm- 
ing warning ; for he adds, certainly in real kindness. Re- 
pent, that is, change thy purpose, and abandon thy wicked 
schemes, and pray God that the thought of thy heart may be 
forgiven thee. Still, he rather wished than expected him to 
'^ Archbishop Sumner, on 1 Peter iii. 17. 


repent, for he could discern no symptoms of contrition. 
On the contrary, he said, I ferceive that thou art now 
in the gall of bitterness, and the hand of iniquity; as it 
were, a bitter poisonous plant, and a bundle of unrighte- 
ousness. Nevertheless, he intimated, notwithstanding the 
abhorrence he had shown, that he did not consider that 
he had sinned beyond the possibility of forgiveness, for 
he exhorts him to repent, and to pray. Simon, terrified, 
entreats the Apostles to pray for him, but we are 
not told of his pi'aying for himself; and his reply seems 
dictated not by compunction but by prudence, from no 
feeling of the guilt and misery of sin, but from the appre- 
hension of punishment. He has the infamous celebrity of 
giving name to the sinful practice of trafficking in spiritual 
concerns ; and Simony, as it is called, the purchasing ordi- 
nation, or the cure of souls, is condemned by the Canon Law, 
and the Statutes of our own country ; and every Clerk pre- 
sented to a Benefice takes a circumstantial oath, that he has 
not been implicated in any manner in a contract of this 

There is no farther notice of Simon in the inspired 
narrative, but he has in ecclesiastical history the bad pre- 
eminence of being described as the parent of all heresy. 
We learn from Justin Martyr, an high authority, as so 
early a writer and as his fellow-countryman, that he 
was born at Gitton ; and he is reported in the spurious 
Recognitions of Clement to have studied at Alexandria. 
He probably believed that Christ was an emanation from 
the Deity, yet his system was so debased with the specu- 
lations of the falsely called philosophy of the East, that 
he would with more propriety, like the other Gnostics, be 
called, not an heretic, but the propagator of another religion. 
According to the Fathers, he was the inventor of the scheme 
which was proudly called Tvwtrig, that is. Knowledge, to 
which there are allusions both in St. John's Gospel, and the 


Pauline Epistles. According to Justin, nearly all the Sa- 
maritans, and a few persons in other countries, acknowledged 
him as the supreme God; and according to Irenasus, he de- 
clared himself to the Samaritans as the Father, to the Jews as 
the Son, and to the Gentiles as the Holy Spirit ^ Eusebius'-^ 
and the early Fathers have marvellous stories of his sub- 
sequent rivalry with St. Peter at Rome, when both must have 
been advanced in life. The first was like the trial between 
Elijah and the priests of Ahab, to ascertain whether Jehovah 
or Baal was God ; for each tried, Simon in" vain, and 
Peter successfully, to restore to life a deceased relation of 
the Emperor. The second was an attempt to fly from 
the Capitoline hill ; when at the prayer of Peter, who 
was standing in the crowd, his wings no longer upheld 
him, and he fell so miserably bruised, that he died. The 
stories are improbable enough in themselves ; and the 
authority of one of these writers, Justin Martyr, from 
whom later writers, like Eusebius, might borrow, is 
weakened by his assertion, that a statue had been erected to 
him in the Tyberine island, since this actual statue was 
disinterred in 1574, when it appeared from the inscription, 
' Simoni Sanco Deo Fidio,' that an obscure local God had 
been mistaken for this heretic. He seems to have been 
one of the exorcists common at that period ; and if we may 
believe Justin Martyr, in his first Apology to the Emperor, 
he went to Rome in the reign of Claudius, and obtained 
numerous followers ; but his celebrity was evanescent ; 
for we learn from Origeu (against Celsus), that in his time 
there were not perhaps thirty Simonians remaining. 

" Irenseus, iv. 20. "^ Historia, ii. ] 3. 




Philip had been sadly disappointed in his Samaritan 
convert ; but he was soon after called to proclaim the 
Messiah to a true believer, and of such an exalted station, 
that through his instrumentality he became a blessing to a 
distant people, none otlier of Avhom he was to see in the 
flesh. We cannot fail to be struck with this illustration of 
the remark, that when there is an earnest search after truth, 
God is often pleased to bring the seeker to the truth or 
the truth to the seeker. The Almighty, who disposes all 
things according to the good pleasure of his will, now 
passed over the intermediate land of Egypt, with which 
Israel was still so intimately connected, and selected the 
Treasurer of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, a descendant 
it should seem of Ham, and the first not of the seed of 
Abraham, to become a convert, and to be the Apostle of 
his remote country, cut off even now from Christendom, 
and as it were the outpost of Christianity among the 
Mohammedans and the heathen of South Africa. He was 
a proselyte of righteousness, that is, one of those devout 
men, or persons fearing God, as Luke calls them, who 
though of Gentile birth had abjured their idols, and had 
taken Jehovah for their only Lord. This Eunuch had 
visited Jerusalem to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, 
and to visit his Temple. In the society he had kept, 
probably the name of Jesus had been never mentioned ; and 
certainly he had now no prospect of hearing of his claim to 
the oflice of the Messiah, for he was returning home, and a 
few days must have placed him beyond the reach of any of 
his disciples. But Philip is suddenly impelled by the 
Spirit to enter the southern desert, between Gaza and 
Egypt, which he would never have visited of his own 
accord. The command soon explained itself, for he saw the 
Eunu-ch sitting in his chariot, and endeavouring to discover 


the meaning of the Prophet Isaiah. The passage which he 
was reading aloud was that memorable prediction of the humi- 
liation of the Messiah, his rejection by his people, and his 
suffering unto death, and his meek and lamb-like endurance, 
which more perhaps than any other single one brings con- 
viction. The Targums interpret it rightly ; but modern 
Jews, misled by their celebrated medigeval commentators, as 
Kimchi, Jarchi, and Abenezra, wrest it in various ways from 
its obvious meaning; some, in defiance of common sense, 
taking it as a figurative representation of the nation, (though 
hy his stripes we are healed, necessarily implies two parties ;) 
and others referring it to Hezekiah or Jeremiah. Strange 
to say, there are Christian commentators who without the 
same motives, however learned they may be, are so pre- 
judiced, as to discover Judas Maccabaeus in him who cometh 
with dyed garments from Bozra, travelling in the greatness 
of his strength, mighty to save, whom the humble teachable 
believer recognises as his triumphant Redeemer. And 
these, with the Jews, give up this wonderful prediction, 
which has been so accurately fulfilled even to its minutest 
details, though referred to Christ by Peter a^, and here 
formally assigned to him by Philip under the teaching 
of the Holy Spirit. Those who enlarge upon the diffi- 
culties of understanding God's holy word, though an 
inspired writer of a large portion of it says, it giveth 
understanding unto the simple, are fond of repeating the 
Eunuch's reply to Philip's question, Understandest thou 
what thou readest ? — How can I, unless some man teach me. 
They forget that this is not a dogma, or a precept, or a 
promise, but a prophecy ; and that, in the interpretation 
of that which has not been fulfilled, the learned and the 
intelligent are on a level with the dull and the ignorant, 
while the fulfilled is equally obscure to those who have 
not been informed of the event which fulfils it. This 
passage is preeminently clear, and has confirmed the faith of 
" 1 Peter ii. 24. 


many a pious imperfectly educated peasant, who has com- 
pared the sufferings of his Saviour, as foretold by the 
Prophet, and narrated by the Evangelists. It is not the 
ignorant, but the learned, who have deprived themselves of 
the edification which it is intended to convey, by seeking a 
private interpretation of their own, that find this perspicuous 
prophecy perplexing; while those who yield to the teaching 
of the Holy Spirit have no difficulty in comprehending the 
text he has indited. The Eunuch required no miracle to 
confirm his faith. Philip's exposition of the passage satisfied 
him ; and learning that Jesus, though crucified with male- 
factors, had received an honourable and expensive interment, 
he equally believed what could not be exhibited to the senses, 
and what no doubt was at the same time explained to him, 
that the chastisement of his peace was upon Jesus. No 
sooner had they on their solitary journey reached a well or 
pool, than the convert, unwilling to lose time, eagerly ex- 
claimed, Heie is water ; what doth hinder me to he baptized? 
Philip assuring him, that if he had real faith he might ; he 
answered, / believe that Jesus is the Son of God; a brief creed, 
but including no doubt in this confession of his divinity, a 
firm persuasion of his atoning sacrifice for sin. The object 
for which Philip had been brought into the desert being thus 
accomplished, the Spirit snatched him away, and he is next 
found at Azotus, about forty miles from Gaza. The 
Eunuch we may presume was confirmed in his faith by his 
disappearance, as sudden and as unexpected as his coming ; 
and as he carried back with him that pearl of great price, 
with which all the treasures connected to his trust are 
unworthy to be compared, it is not surprising that he went 
on his way rejoicing''. 

•> This memorable confession is discarded by (rriesbach and Matthsei, 
because wanting iu A. C. G. and other Ms§. To me it seems more likely 
that it should have been dropj)ed than interpolated, and its authority is 
sustained by the Vulgate and the Syriac version. The Alexandrian and 
some other Mss read, ' The Holy Spirit fell upon the Eunuch, but an angel 
of the Lord took away Philip.' 




This eminent Apostle is introduced to us abruptly ; for 
the first we hear of him is, that the vvitnesses who began 
the murder of Stephen, to prepare themselves for stoning 
him, took off their cloaks % and laid them at the feet of a 
young man, who was approving their conduct. The singling 
him out indicates, that his zeal must have already given 
him celebrity; and as it was with the members, among others 
of the Cilician synagogue, that Stephen had disputed, it is 
probable that he, a Cilician, had taken part in those dis- 
cussions for which his education would have qualified him. 
Luke could have fully gratified our curiosity, but his 
object was not the life of his friend, but a review of his 
labours and success as a Christian Missionary ; and he tells 
us no more than that it was through Barnabas that he was 
introduced to the Apostles ; so that the tradition may be 
true, that they studied together vn:ider Gamaliel ; and if it 
be, the two, though subsequently of one mind, took in 
youth an opposite course, the one eagerly sacrificing pro- 
perty to the cause he had embraced, the other driven by 
the fervour of his character into persecution of the sect 
which his fellow-disciple encouraged. However this may- 
be, Paul, we learn from himself, was brought up at the feet 
of that eminent teacher. And he is our sole authority for 
all the particulars we have of his history, which incidentally 
drop from him in his justification of himself, both in the 
Temple and before King Agrippa; and in his second Epistle 

» Our translators, in conformity with the consentiens of the Vulgate, 
render arvpeK^oKe^s, consenting, though they render it more correctly, have 
pkastwe, in Romans i. 32. 


to the Corinthians, in which, to maintain his Apostolical 
authority, he was obliged to boast of his revelations, and to 
glory in the abundance of his spiritual gifts. From himself 
then we learn, that he was a native not of Judaea but of 
Tarsus, as he calls it, no mean city, and one yielding to few 
in eminence ; for it had the rank of Metropolis, and was as 
a place of education in the time of Strabo, (xiv.) that is of 
Augustus, reckoned superior to Alexandria and Athens. 
During the civil war, it was so zealous in the cause of 
Caesar, that it assumed the name of Juliopolis, and was 
recompensed by Augustus, for Cassius's ill treatment of it, 
by freedom from taxes ; but was not, as is maintained by 
many learned writers, a Colony. St. Paul we know was a 
Roman citizen, and on emergencies availed himself of 
his privileges. He had inherited the distinction, but not 
as a native of Tarsus ; for after declaring his birthplace, the 
centurion was still surprised at his citizenship ; but being 
free born, his father, or some ancestor, must either have 
bought the right, or obtained it as a remuneration for 
service rendered to the State. In his birthplace he became 
acquainted with the Greek language, which was spoken there 
with some peculiarity, and critics have fancied from the time 
of Jerome that they have discerned Cilicisms in his writings; 
they also assume that he here studied the literature of Greece, 
but his style is Hellenistic, and the only evidence brought is 
of little weight, for the passages he quotes from Callimachus, 
and Aratus, and Menander, might be in common use ; nor 
have the reading of their works shown much proficiency in the 
language. He bore the name of the first king of Israel, being 
of his tribe ; and it was with a prophetic reference to him, 
in the opinion of Chrysostom and Augustin, that the dying 
Jacob said of Benjamin, in the morning he will raven as a 
zvolf, in his unconverted state ; and in the evening, when an 
Apostle, divide the prey. Humanly speaking, and as a 
Jew, he had more reason than others to trust in the flesh, for 


he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, that is, not like his son in 
the faith, Timothy, but born of parents who were both Jews by 
birth and religion. He had been circumcised at the appointed 
time, the eighth day, he was the son of a Pharisee, and had 
lived a Pharisee, according to the strictest sect of Judaism, 
without reproach, and touching the righteousness of the law 
blameless. Having been sent for education to Jerusalem, 
he could appeal to the nation that he had been taught 
according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, 
and was zealous, and had lived in all good conscience, and 
had made proficiency in the Jews' religion beyond his 
associates. His zeal and his attainments opened a career 
of distinction ; but when he tells the Philippians, that for 
the excellency of the knoivledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, 
I have suffered the loss of all things, it seems to imply that 
he had given up more than prospects. His father was at 
least able to afford to send him to Jerusalem, and he had 
there connections, for we read of his nephew ; and had 
kinsmen in Rome, for under that appellation he salutes 
Herodian, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, and Andronicus; and 
Junia, who had been also in prison with him; and however 
obscure now, were then of note among the Apostles, He 
is reputed to have been two years older than our Lord, and 
must have been his contemporary ; and we may believe that 
he had providentially withdrawn from Jerusalem during 
his ministry, and had not returned till after the crucifixion ; 
for otherwise we might presume, that one of his impetuous 
disposition would not have come forward as the personal 
opponent of Him, whom he afterwards so furiously and 
unrelentingly persecuted in his members. He might 
however not have condescended to notice one, whom he 
must have then regarded either as an impostor or an en- 
thusiast ; and the reports that would reach him of his 
opposition to the glosses and interpretations of the law 
of those teachers whom he received, and whom Jesus con- 


demned with severity, while he spared sinners, might cause 
him to despise him too much to seek him even to confute 
him. He might also have been stationary at Jerusalem, 
which Jesus rarely visited, and but for a short period. 
Whatever be the cause, I think his words to the Corinthians, 
{2 Cor. V. 16.) though we had known Christ after the flesh, 
yet now henceforth hioio tve him no more, indirectly convey 
the idea that he was not personally acquainted with him ; 
and if he had, I think that in this Epistle, in which he 
enters so much into his own history and feelings, he would 
have acknowledged the fact, while praising the mercy that 
rescued him from the career of ruin in w iiich he was running 
when apprehended by him. Writers ancient and modern, 
admiring, as they cannot fail to do, his regenerate character, 
endeavour to diminish his original guilt, and plead as an 
excuse if not an apology his sincerity. Such an excuse 
might equally be offered for many a subsequent persecutor; 
but it will ever be rejected with abhorrence by the true 
penitent, who, like Paul, will, when sitting not at the 
feet of a time-serving Gamaliel, but in his sound mind at 
those of Jesus, confess well the full extent of his sin, and 
attribute his forgiveness to unmerited favour. He allows at 
the same time that he did it ignorantly in unbelief, and 
before Agrij)pa that he was exceedingly mad against the 
Christians, thinking that he ought to do many things 
against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Paul seems to 
have lived in a superior circle to the eleven; and no con- 
clusion to the contrary can be drawn from his tent-making, 
by which, when a Christian, he maintained himself and his 
companions; for Jews of the highest rank and of the greatest 
wealth were always taught a mechanical trade. He is 
called vsuv((rxoi, a you7ig man, a word which was used 
with great latitude. Clirysostom assumes him to have been 
thirty-five years old; and in his Epistle to Philemon, written 
twenty-eight years after, he calls himself ayed. For 


this persecutor, who had raged against believers like 
a wild beast, but who was soon to preach the doctrine 
which he had opposed, was reserved the honour of 
opening the kingdom of heaven to the idolatrous Gentiles; 
for Cornelius, the convert of Peter, was the first fruits of 
the proselytes of the gate, that is, of those who, while they 
acknowledged the God of Israel, had not entered into 
covenant with him. This first great adversary of the faith 
had been active in Jerusalem, in haling men and women to 
prison, breathing forth threatenings and slaughter, and 
his fame had reached Damascus ; for Ananias, when Jesus 
appeared to him in a vision, remonstrated, saying, Lord, 
I have heard from many of this man, how much evil he hath 
done to thy saints at Jerusalem. That city was not a field 
ample enough for his zeal; he sought and obtained letters to 
Damascus, which contained a Jewish population of some 
thousands, that he might bring back with him any of that 
way for punishment. In spiritual matters, the authority of 
the Sanhedrim would be allowed, but the nature of his 
commission required the sanction of the civil power ; and 
we may conclude, Aretas, in whose possession the city- 
then was, to have been a proselyte. Judaism flourished in 
Arabia, it was professed by many of the petty sovereigns of 
Yemen, and his being Herod's father-in-law, adds to the 
probability of being a convert. Saul set out to make havoc 
of the Church in Damascus, to which we may suppose 
some of its more timid members had fled ; but he was 
suddenly arrested in his destructive career by a personal 
interposition of the Saviour, and he entered that city a 
humble and contrite penitent. He became a believer and 
an Apostle, and not only an Apostle, but not a whit behind 
the chiefest of them, as Peter and John, and one to whom it 
had been granted to labour more abundantly than them all. 
It was announced to him in a vision in the Temple, that he 
was a chosen instrument to bear the Saviour's name to the 


Gentiles, and it was for maintaining that the partition wall 
between Jew and Gentile had been broken down by the 
Lord and Saviour of them both, that both might be recon- 
ciled to God in one body on the cross, that he suffered 
confinement at Rome. In the Epistle therefore, written 
from the capital to the Ephesians, (iii. 1.) he styles him- 
self the 2^'^'^soner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles; and 
we and all who are not of the stock of Israel are 
under the highest obligation to this our Apostle, who has 
so triumphantly established our right to partake of the 
blessing of redemption. In labours, in sufferings, in pri- 
vations, he was foremost, and equally so in gifts, and in 
revelations. The latter might indeed have overcome his 
natural modesty, and tempted him to boasting; but lest he 
should be exalted beyond measure, a thorn in the flesh'', 
a messenger of Satan, was sent to buffet him, and to keep 
him low. This apparent obstacle to his success, some 
bodily defect, most probably an impediment in his speech, 
which rendered his presence contemptible, though his 
letters were weighty, was felt by him so deeply, that he 
thrice besought the Lord that he might be delivered from 
it. His prayer was heard, but not as he expected, for it was 
not removed ; but he was assured that his Lord's grace was 
sufficient for him, and that his strength should be perfected 
in weakness. The Apostle therefore not only cheerfully 
acquiesced in this dispensation, but rejoiced, perceiving 
that when he thought himself weak, he was really strong. 
It should seem that it was designed that he should expe- 
rience all the evils which he had inflicted upon others. 
Thus he who was accessory to the stoning of the first 
Martyr, was himself stoned ; he who had driven others into 
exile, had no settled habitation ; and he, once such a zealot 
for the Law, was not only exposed to the enmity of the 
Jews, for maintaining that it was for a temporary authority 
" 2 Cor. xii. 7—10. 


about to vanish away, but had also to contend with insidious 
false brethren, who, by combining it with Christianity as 
the cause of justification, annulled the free finished sal- 
vation, which is the substance and the glory of the Gospel. 

The miraculous appearance, which at once subdued the 
proud spirit of Saul, and caused the persecutor to ])raj 
to him whom he had in 'his members persecuted, is an 
attestation to the truth of Christianity, which Lord 
Lyttleton has ably urged, and which no infidel has at- 
tempted to confute. He has demonstrated that Saul could 
be no impostor, for all the temptations which wealth, power, 
or honour could offer were on the Jewish side ; and no self- 
deceived enthusiast, for this supposition is contradicted 
by the whole tenour oT his life and writings. The warmth 
of his temper carried him violently in the opposite direction; 
and had he professed to have seen a vision encouraging him to 
proceed in his course, it might have been plausibly stated 
that his imagination had imposed upon his judgment. 
But nothing having occurred to change his opinions or 
feelings, it is incredible that he should have mistaken 
lightning for a supernatural brightness, or fancied that 
he heard in the thunder a voice reproaching him for perse- 
cuting the followers of one whom he believed to be a 
blasphemous impostor. It is also to be remembered, that 
he was not alone ; for he had companions who saw the light, 
and heard, though they did not understand, the words which 
were spoken. We may add, that the story could not have 
been a fabrication to account for Saul's entire change of 
character, for he publicly repeated the fact before the Jews 
in the Temple, and before King Agrippa, where, if an in- 
vention, it might have been refuted. German neological 
perverters of Scripture admit the fact, but deny the 
miracle, assuming that they were overtaken by a thunder 
storm, or beheld some extraordinary meteor ; but, as if in 
anticipation of such guesses, he tells Agrippa, that at noon- 



day, when even vivid lightning is scarcely visible, he saw 
a light above the brightness of the sun. It was, I conceive, 
that dazzling manifestation of the Deity, which had ap- 
peared to a favoured few of his nation in days of yore, as 
Moses and some of the Prophets ; nor can we wonder that 
Saul was subdued by this unexpected confirmation of the 
truth, which he had hitherto reviled and persecuted. 

We have not only Luke's narrative of this vision, com- 
municated to him, we may presume, by Paul, but also, as 
we have observed, his own repetitions of it ; and it is satis- 
factory to compare the three accounts. It is true that he 
mentions only the light and the speech, but it is positively 
affirmed by Ananias, who is an independent witness ; for 
on coming to restore his sight, he said to him, Brother 
Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that ajjpeared unto thee in the 
way as thou earnest, has sent me. The Apostle himself, in 
his first letter to the Corinthians, (ix. 1.) writes, Am I not 
an Apostle? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? and 
afterwards, (xv. 8.) last of all he tvas seen by me also. I 
wonder therefore that so many divines should not reckon 
this as one of those appearances. It was as they were 
drawing nigh to Damascus that the light suddenly shone 
round about them, and in consequence they all fell to the 
ground. Then came the voice in Hebrew, intelligible to 
Saul alone, Saul, Saul, why persecuiest thou me? He 
summoned resolution to ask, Who art thou, Lord? and 
received the answer, 1 am Jesus, whom thou persecittest : it 
is hard for thee to kick ayahist the goad^. This is a pro- 

*> The phrase is proverbial in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The following 
citations from the Attic Dramatists are interesting. 
OtjKovv, (noiye xp^h-^^''^ StSa(rKd\<i>, 
Tlphs KfVTpa Kw\ov eKTtvels. Prom. 323. 

Uphs KfVTpa nil \dKTi^e, fii] TTTjffas ixoy^s. Agam. 1624. 
&voifi hi/ ai/TCj; /xuWov, f)f Ov/jLOvfiivos 
Upbs iiivrpa KaKri^oini Ovrjrhs Hiiv decji. Bacclise, 795. 

Nam qua? inscitia est, 
Adversum stiiiiulum calces? Terence, Phormio. 


verbial expression, taken from the behaviour of an un- 
tractable vicious animal, who, in resisting superior power, 
receives, instead of inflicting injury. The image occurs 
in the early Greek poets, and might be familiar to any 
language ; but the reference, I conceive, is to the complaint 
of Moses, Jeshurun loaxecl fat, and kicked against God. 
(Deut. xxxii. 15.) Saul overcome, and trembling, acknow- 
ledges the authority of the speaker. Lord, what wilt thou 
have me to do ? Rising up, in obedience to the command 
to proceed to Damascus, he found himself perfectly blind, 
and his companions were obliged to lead him to the city. 
In this condition he continued at least till the third day. 
Shut up in his own thoughts, and reviewing this instanta- 
neous and entire change of opinion, he had neither leisure 
nor inclination to attend to the concerns of the body. He 
neither ate nor drank. The process of conviction was carried 
on in solitude. He now made the painful discovery of the 
inadequacy of his boasted legal righteousness, and he was 
taught directly from above the Gospel doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith, which he assures the Galatians he learnt not 
from man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. i. 11, 
IS.) Ananias, a disciple, is instructed to visit him ; and his 
change of character is emphatically expressed by his new 
occupation. Behold, he prayeth. No sooner is Ananias 
satisfied of the reality of the change, than he repairs to 
Saul's lodging. His bitter enmity and furious zeal are 
no more remembered ; he sees in him not the murderer of 
the saints, but a new creature, formed in Christ Jesus 
to new works, and salutes him with the appellation of 
Brother. By the imposition of his hands, there fell from 
his eyes as they had been scales, and he was immediately 
admitted by baptism into the company of the faithful. 
He then received food, and was strengthened. In judgment 
God now eminently remembered mercy ; for this blindness, 
an apt emblem of his mental darkness to others as well as 


to himself, was like that which he afterwards called down 
upon Elymas, another opponent of the truth, was but a tem- 
porary visitation. Saul joined himself to the disciples, and 
straightway in the synagogues, from which he had intended 
to drag them, proclaimed Jesus of Na'zareth to be the Christ, 
the Son of God. He was strengthened more and more, 
amazing the believers, and confounding opponents. And 
after manij days xoere fulfilled, Luke continues, the Jews took 
counsel to kill him. The interval we might suppose should 
be reckoned by weeks, or months at most ; but a comparison 
with his own account to the Galatians will shew, that he 
had previously withdrawn for no less a time than three years 
to Arabia ; and that it was after his return that his preaching 
drew down upon him this persecution ; and then it was that 
Aretas's governor designed to arrest him, and that his fellow 
disciples let him down in a basket along the wall through 
the window of a contiguous house. He now after three 
years went up to Jerusalem, chiefly to see Peter ; but he 
abode with him no more than fifteen days. Here he had 
the mortification to find that he was shunned, and treated 
as an enemy, who had only exchanged violence for stratagem. 
Barnabas, however, who knew probably from himself as a 
former friend the vision which had converted him, satisfied 
the Apostles of his sincerity ; and he spake boldly, and 
disputed with the Hellenists, with whom he had formerly 
associated against the faith, till his life was here also in 
danger. He was therefore taken down to Csesai-ea, where 
he embarked for his own country Cilicia, in which he was 
comforted with the revelations of which the Corinthians 
compelled him to boast. (2 Cor. xii.) We know from 
himself, that the only Apostles whom he saw on this short 
visit were Peter, and James the Lord's brother. It was now 
that he was thrown into a trance, not like Peter privately, 
but in the court of the Temple, and was instructed to leave 
Jerusalem, because its inhabitants would not receive his 


testimony. He pleaded the success that was likely to 
follow the preaching of one who had been so marked a 
persecutor, but he was commanded to depart, and informed 
that another office still more glorious was assigned to 
him, the proclaiming to the Gentiles the unsearchable 
riches of Christ, and the turning them from darkness unto 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God. 

He suffered fourteen years to elapse before he thought 
it prudent to appear again in Jerusalem. Ail we know of 
the intervening period is, that he was not known by face 
to the Churches in Judasa, but remained in Cilicia and 
Syria. It did not come within the plan of his friend and 
fellow-labourer to specify the way in which his now purified 
ardour of temper shewed itself, but we may conclude that 
many of the perils of which he himself speaks, of waters, 
of robbers in the city, wilderness, and sea, befel him in 
these journeys ; and that here as well as elsewhere he had 
to endure watchings, hunger and thirst, and fasting, as a 
good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

The blindness with which he had been stricken was a sign 
both to himself and to the believers of Damascus of the reality 
of the vision. If it had been merely the effect of a natural 
phaenomenon, he would hardly have been the only sufferer. 
It was a significant chastisement, mercifully designed to 
bring him to his right mind. His restoration to sight 
through the agency of Ananias does not seem to be suffi- 
ciently considered, as an independent evidence of the truth 
of the narrative. Had Saul himself had any misgiving, the 
unexpected appearance of this stranger and the reason he 
would give for his coming, the appearance of the same 
Lord to himself as to him, which latter could only thus be 
known by Ananias, must have removed it, and both would 
be satisfied that these appearances could be no delusion of 
the senses, when they perceived that the events agreed with 
the prediction to both, and that the scales fell from the con- 


vert's eyes when touched by the hands of the believer. Saul 
proved, as the Lord told Ananias, his chosen instrument to 
bear his name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the childrefi 
of Israel; and for this arduous office he was humanely 
qualified by his education, and his skill in the Jewish mode 
of interpreting Scripture. He spoke also (1 Cor. xiv. 8.) 
more tongues than the most highly gifted converts, and 
he was the most convincing witness for Christ, as the sole 
Apostle who had seen him in glory after his ascension. 
Thus, by a most unexpected dispensation of him, zvhose ivays 
are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts, was 
Saul the blasphemer of Chi'ist, and the persecutor of his 
saints, made the first fruits of the dying martyr Stephen's 
intercession, and also the first voucher to tlie truth of his 
testimony of seeing Jesus Christ in glory at the right hand 
of God, by what he himself so soon after witnessed on the 
road to Damascus. 

The reality of Paul's conversion is established by his own 
frequent public confession, and the testimony alike of those 
who supported, and of those who persecuted, the cause which 
he henceforth lived to promote. It is confirmed by his change 
of character and conduct. An impostor would not have 
feigned a change so injurious to his profit or honour; an 
enthusiast could never have been misled to favour a system 
that was contrary to his national and party prejudices; nor 
would a man of sane mind have assumed a part, which 
could only subject him to privations, insults, and suflfering; 
and which, to use his own words, if in this life only he had 
hope, would make him the most miserable of men. The 
instantaneous change wrought in him by the interference of 
that Jesus whom he was about to persecute in his members, 
is justly considered the noblest triumph of Christianity, and 
affords the most satisfactory evidence of its truth. It aflfords 
also, according to the Apostle's own declaration, a most im- 
portant lesson to every subsequent age. To me, the chief 


of sinners, did Christ Jesus show mercy ; and that this might 
not be dee red a solitary instance for the fulfihiient of a 
great object, he adds as a pattern to all who shall hereafter 
believe, an he introduces it by this consolatory general 
truth, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnei's. 
Well may he from his experience, and his knowledge of 
human nature, declare, that it is a saying worthy of all ac- 
ceptation, since all without exception have come short of the 
glory of God ; and Christians who may not have run to the same 
excess of riot as the heathen, have sinned against greater 
knowledge. And not only is the fact of his conversion placed 
beyond the reach of doubt, but we know even in this late 
age its moral nature ; we know that the conviction of the 
understanding was followed by the conversion and renovation 
of the heart ; not indeed as in the case of some celebrated 
converts of modern times, as detailed by their biographers 
or by themselves, but as exhibited by the spirit which per- 
vades his Epistles, the tendency of which is not only to build 
up the reader in orthodoxy, but to constrain him from the 
generous motive of gratitude, to live piously, soberly, and 
honestly, to the glory of his Redeemer. It pleased the Lord 
to select Saul the persecutor to be his Apostle to the 
Gentiles, and such an one must be fitted for his office in a 
remarkable manner; but those whom He called upon to attend 
him in his lifetime were gradually prepared ; and Peter 
who denied him required a different kind of conversion, for 
his fall was caused not by want of faith, but of courage. 

It seems here proper to observe, that this conversion has 
been wrested to the injury, if not the subversion, of the 
faith of many, and consequences have been deduced from 
it destructive of the peace of timid believers. Happily the 
study of St. Paul's life and writings affords a confutation 
of this view. None indeed will deny, that there are 
presumptuous sinners who require a complete renovation of 
character; and if God, who now accomplishes in his pro- 


vidence what he formerly effected by miracle, should will 
the conversion of such, that he can stop him in his mad career 
of sin, and flash upon his mind in a moment a conviction of 
his lost condition, and of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of 
his beloved Son for the salvation even of the chief of sinners. 
The annals of Christianity exhibit such instances, and the 
subsequent lives of these converts have silenced objectors, 
by showing that there was no delusion of the feelings in their 
case, but a real translation from the kingdom of Satan into 
that of God's dear Son. The period of such change some have 
been able to state with accuracy, and the change itself cannot 
be denied ; but the number of such is few indeed, compared 
with those who, having in infancy been received as the 
children of God, have never needed a second spiritual birth, 
though they have been all more or less polluted by the world, 
or have yielded to their own infirmities, and have had need 
of continual renewal to holiness. Certainly the doctrine 
of the instantaneous conversion of notorious sinners is not 
supported, as it lias been said, by the case of Paul, for he 
had been no profligate or sceptic, but exceedingly zealous 
for the Law, and striving to build up by his persecutions 
a legal righteousness. He sinned ignorantly, and in un- 
belief acted from a mistaken conscience, but he never pleads 
sincerity as an excuse; he confesses his guilt, and makes no 
attempt to extenuate it. 

A sinner, suddenly enlightened as to the spirituality of the 
Law, and of his inability to keep it, must, if left to himself, 
sink into despair ; but if in this depth of misery, the doctrine 
of forgiveness for the sake of a crucified Redeemer be made 
known to him, he will hail it with transport, as preeminently 
deserving the title of good news, and will find peace and 
joy in believing it. Such a transition from despair to peace 
is so innnense, that the new convert would be afraid to 
yield to it, lest he should wake from a delightful dream 
into a wretched reality. And he might distrust this un- 


bought salvation as tidings too good to be believed, unless 
he read it as embodied in the conversion of this Apostle. He 
learns also from his subsequent history, that the pardoned 
sinner will not continue what he was, and. that the free mercy 
of the Gospel has been abused or traduced, when said to 
encourage transgressors, but that it is indeed a doctrine pro- 
ductive of holiness and virtue ; and that thus the problem is 
solved, which philosophy gives up in despair, of reconciling the 
justice and mercy of the Deity. Now God can be not only 
merciful, but just, in justifying the ungodly who believeth 
in Jesus. Behold he prayeth, is the first effect of Paul's 
conversion recorded ; and genuine prayer, the homage not 
only of the lips but of the heart, is one of the earliest and 
best proofs of repentance. His ardour was not cooled, but 
it took a new direction. He now preached the faith he 
had endeavoured to destroy, but his character was changed, 
and he would not, if he had the power, have promoted it by 
intolerance and bigotry. He is now characterised by dis- 
interestedness and gentleness. When obliged to reprove, it 
causes him pain ; he dwells more upon the good tlian the 
bad qualities of those whom he addresses, and shows that 
he would rather entreat than command. Happily there are 
few to whom the great Apostle can be in all respects ex- 
hibited as a pattern; still it is desirable, that as the narrative 
of the dying malefactor is preserved as an antidote against 
despair for the dying sinner, so this conversion of a blas- 
phemer is recorded, lest the awakened infidel of modern times 
should fear that he had committed the unpardonable sin. 
It conveys also to all the important lesson of the sovereign 
majesty of God, who as in nature he sets bounds to the 
waves which they cannot pass, however horribly they may 
rage ; so in providence he restrains the fury of the per- 
secuted, and, when he pleases, turns it into an instrument 
of his will. 




The believers now enjoyed a brief season of tranquillity. 
This may be ascribed in part to the miracle which had 
turned their most vehement persecutor into a friend and 
advocate ; but it was also the result of political events. The 
young Caius, grandson of Augustus, had lately succeeded 
Tiberius, and presumed to arrogate to himself divine 
honours. By his heathen subjects, who had already erected 
temples to Rome and Augustus jointly during his life, and 
to the lale emperor after his death, the command was with- 
out scruple obeyed ; but the only nation that worshipped 
the true God shrunk as one man from an act of such awful 
profanation. He had dismissed Vitellius. Governor of 
Syria, for his indulgent treatment of the Jews; and com- 
manded his successor Petronius to set up his statue in the 
holiest of holies, which no mortal but the high priest was 
allowed to enter. The inhabitants with tlieir wives and 
children threw themselves at his feet, offering themselves as 
victims, and declaring that their Law was dearer to them 
than life. The petition of a nation is irresistible, and the 
Governor granted delay. They entrusted their cause to 
their celebrated countryman Philo, who was already at 
Rome as head of an embassy sent to complain of the 
Governor of Alexandria, who, after placing the imperial 
image in their synagogues, destroyed them. He could 
not obtain a hearing, and their worst fears would have 
been realised, had not Agrippa addressed a deprecatory 
letter to the Emperor. This descendant of Herod the Great 
was on the most intimate terms with Caius. He had been 
thrown into prison by Tiberius, on a charge of having ex- 
pressed a wish for his death ; and his friend on his accession 


released him, and made him sovereign of Philip's tetrarchy. 
The tetrarch Herod, yielding reluctantly to his wife's 
ambition, soon after sailed for Italy, hoping by money to 
purchase the same royal dignity as his nephew. Agrippa, 
however, outwitted him, for he was banished to Lyons, and 
his tetrarchy was added, to the dominions of his successful 
rival. The procuratorial province was accordingly reduced 
to Judaea proper. Caius threatened to visit Alexandria, 
and set up there his own image, but it pleased God to cut 
short the life of this dissolute madman ; and thus, while 
Rome was freed from the disgrace of submitting to his 
tyranny, the merciful Petronius was spared, and the Jewish 
rebellion was for a season postponed. 

Peter now again takes the lead, being chosen to open the 
kingdom of heaven to the devout Gentiles. The com- 
mission had been given to the Apostles in the amplest 
terms. Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to 
every creature. Nevertheless, they had hitherto limited 
themselves to their own countrymen and the Samaritans; 
and such was still the force of their national prejudices, that 
a vision was required to satisfy Peter that he might preach 
Christ to one of Gentile birth, though he had abjured the 
religion of his fathers, and might therefore well be reckoned 
among those who were waiting for the kingdom of God. In 
my opinion, the arguments of the divines greatly preponderate 
who maintain that there were two kinds of proselytes, the 
first who were circumcised, and took upon themselves the 
yoke of the Law, and were absorbed, as it were, into the 
body of the nations. These, of whom the Ethiopian Eunuch 
is an example, were denominated proselytes of righteousness. 
The second, on renouncing idolatry and worshipping God 
according to the light of nature, or, in the language of the 
Rabbis, the seven precepts of the sons of Noah, were 
permitted to dwell in the land, and to pray in the outer 
court of the Temple, and were called from the fourth com- 


mandment proselytes of the gate^ Of this number was 
the centurion, who loved the Jews, and built them a syna- 
gogue ; and this centurion of Caesarea. To him Peter was 
now sent, and he was himself instructed to send for Peter. 
But first the Apostle made a circuit through the country, 
visiting the places where the faith had been established by 
the disciples, whom the late persecution had scattered. 
We are informed of two miracles which he wrought. The 
first was the cure of ^neas, a disciple who had been con- 
fined to his bed eight years by the palsy ; and it seems 
to have been specified, because it was the means of turning 
to the Lord all who dwelt at Lydda. Peter's speech, 
Jesus the Christ maketh thee whole, shews that his care was 
every where to ascribe his miracles to their true Author. 
The second, still more astonishing, was the restoration to 
life of a woman full of good works and almsdeeds, when 
death was felt to be a misfortune to the widows and others 
whom she had clothed through her own industry. Her 
residence, Joppa, was distant ten miles, and Peter was sent 
for. In this case, he knelt down by the dead body, and 
her return to life was the reward of prayer. Her name was 
Tabitha, or antelope, an animal, the beaut}' of whose eyes 
is celebrated by the Arabian poets ; and to her heathen 
neighbours she was known by the Greek equivalent Dorcas. 
Peter now took up his abode at Joppa by the sea side, 
lodging with a namesake who was a tanner. Such a lodging 

a This distinction of proselytes is denied b}' Lardncr, whose arguments 
convinced Doddridge and Hales, but it has the support of Lightfoot, 
Spencer, Shotgcn, and others, who have drunk deepest of the Talmud, and 
owes its general reception to Lord Harrington. To me it seems confirmed 
by Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple, when he states 
the case of a stranger, not of Israel, praying unto God's house, and 
th.\t it was for such devout aliens that the court of the Gentiles was 
formed. The proselytes of righteousness, though the Law was not binding 
upon them, were gladly received, if they wished to put themselves under 
its .yoke, and tliey were admitted by baptism as well as by__circumcision. 


could not be agreeable, and it seems also to be mentioned, 
because his trade was despised by the Jews. 

He was only thirty miles from Caesarea, the seat of 
the Roman government, and therefore more of a heathen 
than a Jewish city. God had, however, in it one faithful 
servant, who gave much alms to his people, and observed 
the temple hours of worship. He bore the noble name 
of Cornelius, and was a centurion of the Italian band, 
unattached apparently to any legion but the body guard 
of the Governor. As he was engaged in devotion at the 
hours of the afternoon sacrifice, an Angel assures him 
that his prayers and alms are come up for a memorial 
before God ; and he is instructed to send for Peter, who is 
to tell him what he ought to do. The Angel is so minute 
in his instructions, as to name the house in which Peter 
is to be found ; but he says not a word respecting the 
Gospel, which he leaves to Peter to communicate. And 
God's method of making his people instrumental to mutual 
teaching and edification, conduces greatly to their improve- 
ment. An Angel can only announce Jesus to be a Saviour, 
but men entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, 
can not only vouch for the truth of the message, but can 
from experience speak of it as good news. Thus Peter, 
who had deeply, and to his own feelings distressingly, 
sinned, had been freely and fully forgiven ; he had indeed 
tasted that the Lord was gracious, and in every respect 
was fitter than an Angel to preach in his name faith and 
repentance. Cornelius was not disobedient to the heavenly 
vision. His example had been a blessing to his house- 
hold, and he had servants, and at least one soldier, called, 
like himself, devout, to whom he could venture to impart 
the heavenly message, and send to Joppa to invite Peter. 
When they departed, he was still under the influence of his 
Jewish prejudices, and might have refused to comply with 
the request. But while they were on their journey, the 


next day at noon he had withdrawn to the housetop to 
pray, and being hungry, was disposed to eat ; but while 
. his meal was preparing, he fell into a trance, in which 
he was favoured with an emblematical exhibition to his 
senses of the Divine will. The vision of a sheet descending 
from heaven, filled with animals of all kinds, accompanied 
with leave to kill and eat, produced (it is true that it 
was in sleep) what seems a boastful answer, I have never 
eaten any thing common or unclean. And some reproof 
seems to be conveyed in the reply, What God hath cleansed^ 
call not thou common. Peter could no longer doubt, that 
the distinction of meats which had proved, as designed, 
so effectual an impediment to the friendly intercourse of 
Jews and Gentiles, was now abrogated ; but the secondary 
sense which it prefigured, the breaking down of the wall of 
partition, and then forming them into one redeemed people, 
was not so manifest, and Peter might not have discovered 
it, had not the Spirit told him, that three men were at the 
door, with whom he was to go, doubting nothing. He 
shewed his submission, by lodging and even eating with 
them. The next morning he returned with them, taking 
five of the brethren, to witness what God intended to do 
through him. Cornelius in expectation had assembled 
his kinsmen and near friends ; and humble as must have 
been the air and the attire of the Galilacan fisher of men, 
the Roman soldier went out to meet him, fell down at his 
feet, and worshipped him as his superior. This act of 
homage, paid by the Romans in Europe only to the gods, was 
not an uncommon mark of respect in the Asiatic provinces. 
Cornelius, we may be assured, did not mean to treat Peter 
as an idolater would one of his deities, but the reply, 
Stand up, I myself also am a man, indicates, that in the 
act of respect, there was a blameable excess of veneration. 
Cornelius related his vision, and expresses the readiness of 
himself and friends to hear the command of God. Peter, 


who now first understood the comprehensive nature of 
Christianity, exclaiined, I perceive that God is no respecter 
of persons, but in every nation he that fea,reth him and 
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. This speech 
is perverted by designing men, who attempt to urge it as 
an acknowledgment from an Apostle's lips of the suffi- 
ciency of natural religion. It requires, however, little 
sagacity to perceive that it must be a perversion, for this 
sense would stultify the whole narrative, by making the 
two heavenly visions and the two journeys superfluous. 
The piety and charity of Cornelius recommended him as 
a fit subject not of simple approbation, but of mercy ; 
for something more than alms and prayers was wanting for 
his acceptance. Persevere in thy course of duty, go on as 
thou hast done, and it shall be well with thee, ought upon 
this hypothesis to have been the Angel's speech ; but it was, 
Call for Simon, surnamed Peter, ivho shall tell thee words 
wherehy thou and all thy house shall he saved. And Peter 
follows up this speech, with a brief summary of the Gospel. 
God is no respecter of persons, that is, of the external 
distinctions of race or profession, but looketh to the 
heart. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, as the 
speaking foreign languages, were usually bestowed after 
baptism, through the ministry of an Apostle ; but in this 
memorable instance, the order was reversed. Had Peter 
first baptized Cornelius and his friends, his companions of 
the circumcision might have remonstrated ; and the Jeru- 
salem brethren, who afterwards blamed him, might not 
have been so easily satisfied. But the Divine interposition 
removed all objections; God himself had baptized this 
Gentile company with the Holy Ghost and with power. 
Who should presume to resist him, who had thus manifested 
his pleasure ! Could any mail forbid tvater, that these 
(Gentiles) should not be baptized, who have received the 
Holy Ghost, as loell as we (Jews). Such was the speech 


that must have silenced opponents ; it must have delighted 
Christians, that others were made sharers of their joy. 
The sign was readily administered to those who had shovm 
that they had received the grace the Sacrament signified. 

The admission of Cornelius into the Church was con- 
demned hy those who know not upon what warrant Peter 
had acted. He was therefore called upon to explain and 
vindicate his conduct. The Romanists maintain, that the 
Pope is successor to Peter in all his privileges, and as 
such, head of the Church, vicar of Christ, and the infallible 
judge of controversies. But Peter himself is far from thus 
lording it over the brethren; for instead of silencing them 
by his" authority, he patiently pleads his cause, and gives 
a circumstantial narrative of the whole transaction. As 
he did not deem explanation beneath his dignity, they were 
open to conviction. They not only held their peace, but 
glorified God for granting (contrary to their former belief) 
repentance unto life to the Gentiles. 

We have now considered three remarkable conversions, 
those of the Jew, and of the. two proselytes. The Gospel 
found Saul a determined enemy ; the Eunuch, an ingenuous 
though ignorant enquirer; Cornelius, prepared by some 
knowledge at least of the first dispensation. To all the 
doctrine was the same, by all it was alike needed, to all we 
may believe it was alike precious. 



Antioch upon the Orontes, about twelve miles from the 
Mediterranean, had been erected as the capital of his 
dominions, with his father's name, by Seleucus, the first 
King of Syria. It was now the metropolis of the East, 


and no provincial city, except Alexandria, could vie with 
it in commerce, population, and importance. The dis- 
persion caused by the persecution had brought believers 
even from Cyprus, and Cyrene, to this great city, who 
preached at first to its Jewish inhabitants only ; after- 
wards it should seem that they addressed the Greeks^, it 
may be in consequence of Peter's baptism of Cornelius, 
and a great number of these, seeing that the hand of the Lord 
(no doubt in miracles) tvas with them, believed. The mother 
Church, hearing of their success, sent Barnabas, probably 
to arrange the government of the congregation. Being 
a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, he 
exhorted them all to cleave unto the Lord loith 'purpose of 
heart ; for he was not ignorant of their weakness, and of the 
devices of Satan, to discourage and to mislead them, and 
knew how much his exhortation was required, to keep 
them in the course on which they had entered. Much 
people was now added unto the Lord, probably in con- 
sequence of his preaching ; and feeling that some coadjutor 
was desirable, he went to Saul at Tarsus, and prevailed 
upon him to return with him. Here they laboured for a 
whole year, and now believers received the worthy name, 
by which they are still distinguished, of Christian. But 
who conferred the title ? not the Jews, who still called 
them Nazarenes. The text seems to favour, what is I believe 
the popular opinion, that it was given by divine suggestion ; 
but I think that it was invented by the people of Antioch, 
who were addicted to mockery ; and the termination of 
the word seems to indicate that it originated with those 
who spoke Latin. Certainly it is never afterwards used by 
Luke ; with him to the last, the disciples are called, of that 
way, or the saved, or brethren, or tliose that call upon the 
name of the Lord. We do not find it in any Epistle, 

" I follow Griesbach's reading, wliich is supported by the Vulgate, and 
by the Greek Fathers. 


except the first of Peter, who, when admonishing the faith- 
ful not to suffer as violators of the Law, adds, if any suffer 
as a Cliristian, let him not he ashamed"" : and the only 
remaining place in which it occurs is Agrippa's exclamation. 
Almost thou persuadesf me to be a Christian'^. I take it 
therefore for a term of reproach, invented by enemies ; 
yet as significant, and in itself unobjectionable, gradually 
adopted by believers. 

Barnabas and Saul were soon interrupted in their work, 
and sent to the mother Church as almoners of the bounty 
of Antioch. This was occasioned by the prediction of 
Agabus, a prophet who had come down from Jerusalem, 
and signified by the Spirit, that there should he a great 
dearth throughout the loorld. The Greek work is ambiguous, 
being sometimes restricted to the empire, and even to the 
land of Judaea; and the last appears to be the meaning 
in this place, for this dearth, said by Luke to have occurred 
in the reign of Claudius, seems to be the one mentioned by 
Josephus, who says nothing of its extending to other 
countries, and tells of large quantities of corn imported into 
Jerusalem, He specifies particularly the liberality of a dis- 
tinguished Jewish^ proselyte, Helene, Queen of Adiabene, 
but none of her charitable contributions, her figs from Cyprus 
or corn from Alexandria, would reach the Christians. The 
converts of the capital of Syria would be more affluent 
than the believers of Jerusalem, who must have impo- 
verished themselves at the first preaching of the faith by 
their abundant distribution of their money, and still more 
by the sale of their property. And this explains both 
the readiness of the Christians of Antioch, in the present 
necessity, and St. Paul's subsequent collections not only 
in wealthy Corinth, but even among the poor believers in 
Macedonia, for the relief of the brethren at Jerusalem. 
They had reaped their spiritual things, and were willing 

•■ 1 Peter iv. 16. <= Acts xxvi. 28. " Ant. xx 2. 


to share with them tlieir carnal ; and this sympathy of a 
community, composed mainly of Gentiles, tended to re- 
concile the Jewish believers to their admission into the 
Christian Church. Having fulfilled this ministry, they 
returned, bringing with them John whose surname was 



A SECOND persecution now arose, in consequence of the 
removal of the Roman procurator, and the grant of the 
province to Herod Agrippa. His services to Claudius, 
who mainly owed to him the empire on the assassination 
of Caius, were rewarded with this large accession to the 
tetrarchies of Philip and of Lysanias, so that he now 
possessed the whole kingdom of Herod the Great. But he 
enjoyed it no more than three years. Josephus describes him 
as a munificent prince, who courted popularity, and was 
zealous for the Law. Both qualities fitted him for a per- 
secutor; and in the imperial palace, and when he came to take 
possession of one of his own, he had never had the opportunity, 
even like the second Agrippa, of becoming almost a Christian. 
To ingratiate himself with his new subjects, he beheaded 
with the sword James the brother of John, who thus, as had 
been foretold by his Master, drank " of his cup, and, like him, 
underwent the baptism of martyrdom. Perceiving that this 
murder answered his object, he proceeded further to take 
Peter also. This stroke, though most afilicting, was per- 
mitted to illustrate the fidelity and courage of the Apostles. 
It proved that their high office and endowment with 
miraculous power were no preservatives against persecution, 
but that they ventured and acted upon the same principles 
and faith as ordinary disciples. Peter, being designed, as 
' Matt. XX. 23. 
G 2 



predicted, to grow old in his Master's service, though he 
seemed marked out as an immediate sacrifice, was secure in 
apparent danger. To the eye of sense his escape was im- 
possible, for his enemies, recollecting that on a former 
occasion he and his associates had been liberated from 
prison, though the doors still remained closed, took care, as 
they conceived, to prevent his deliverance ; for he was con- 
signed to the care of as many as sixteen soldiers, who 
watched him two and two by turns, two being stationed 
before the door, and he himself not being chained as usual 
to one but to two, so that both his hands were confined. 
He was the chief pillar of the infant Church which had just 
been deprived of one of the sons of Zebedee, and prayer 
without ceasing was made for him. The earnest fervent 
prayer of one righteous man availeth much ; and shall not 
God interfere for his own elect, when many join to cry unto 
him on their behalf day and night ! A miracle alone could 
rescue Peter, and a miracle was vouchsafed. Fastened to 
his two guards, neither the inconvenience of his position nor 
the fear of death prevented his sleeping. To him the king 
of terrors, as he has been called, was disarmed ; he had learnt 
from his Lord not to fear those who could only kill the body; 
and knew, though his abiding in the flesh was more needful 
for the faithful, the stroke that set him free from privations, 
cares, and sulferings, would be to himself by much far 
better, since it would bring him into the presence of his 
glorified Master and Friend. A light shone in his dungeon, 
and he w^as awakened by an Angel. His chains fell oiF while 
the soldiers were still asleep, he dressed himself as com- 
manded, and followed his guide. They passed urmoticed 
through two wards, and the prison gate opened of its own 
accord. Peter found himself alone in the street, and he 
then ascertained that it was no vision, and exclaimed, 
Now I know of a certainty, that the Lord hath sent his Angel, 
and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the 


expectation of the Jews. He immediately repaired to the 
house of Mary, the sister of Barnabas and mother of John 
surnamed Mark, where many believers were gathered together 
praying, and soon received evidence that God is a hearer of 
prayer. So little however did they expect this early answer 
to their petition, that on his knocking, and Rhoda the > 
servant hastening in gladness to tell them that he was at the ^ ^ 
gate, they said that she was out of her mind; and when she \ , 
persevered in her asseveration, insisted upon its not being 
Peter himself, but a messenger from him. This seems to 
me to be the meaning, and I take the reference to a guardian 
Angel to have originated from forgetting the etymology of 
the word, and that to turn a messenger into an angel, in the 
English sense, requires the distinguishing addition of God, 
which it always has in the Greek. Peter having described 
to them his miraculous deliverance, which he desired them 
to communicate to James and the brethren, withdrew to 
some place of safety. The place is not named, but if it 
were beyond Judcea, it was more probably Antioch than the 
capital. The latter Romanists confidently maintain, but 
they can cite no ancient authority for their assertion, the 
earliest naming Paul and Peter as joint founders of the 
Roman Church ; the Epistle written to the Romans several 
years later shows, that they had not as yet enjoyed the 
presence of any who could have imparted to them spiritual 
gifts; and Peter attended the Council heli at Jerusalem 
respecting the obligation of the Law. 

The death of James seems to have essentially altered the 
constitution of the primitive Church. Hitherto it had been 
governed by the joint authority of the Apostles, who formed, 
as it were, a Senate, while the great body of believers, when 
required, met together in a popular assembly. They were 
now to depart to the respective provinces to which they 
were called by the Holy Ghost, and they appointed another 
James the superintendent, or in our language Bishop, of 


Jerusalem. The modern Greeks understand him to be the 
person called the Lord's brother, the Latin Church to be 
the son of Alphseus, and this opinion seems supported by 
the Epistle to the Galatians. The vacancy made by the 
limitation of the authority of this James, and the martyrdom 
of the son of Zebedee, appears to have been supplied by the 
nominating- Saul and Barnabas extraordinary Apostles to 
the Gentiles^. This concurrent tradition of the earliest 
authorities seems borne out by the indirect testimony of this 
Book of Acts ; for at the commencement of the narrative, 
Peter and John jointly take the lead, but henceforth pre- 
eminence is assigned to James, even when Peter is present. 
Thus now on his liberation, Peter desires intelligence of it 
to be communicated specially to him ; and it was to the same 
Apostle that Paul went in, when he wished to repeat to the 
brethren his successful mission to the Gentiles. In the synod 
of the Apostles and the brethren respecting the observance 
of Jewish rites, Peter speaks at large, but it is James who 
announces the determination of the assembly. Paul places 
his name before those of Peter and John, (Gal. ii. 9.) and 
he calls the Jerusalem brethren who came to Antioch, certain 
that came down from James. (Gal. ii. 12.) Paul also on his 
last visit to Jerusalem, the day after his arrival, went in unto 
James, and all the elders tvere j)rese7it. Acts xxi. 18. 

In the morning, Herod had the vexation to find that 
he was unaccountably disappointed of his prey. The guards 
examined, could give no account of Peter's disappearance. 
As the Apostles had been delivered in a similar manner 
a few years ago, Herod or his officers might have suspected 

*• The word was then used with more latitude than it has been since, for 
Paul gives the title to a man and a woman, Andronicus and Junia. Rom. 
xvi. 7. It occurs also in the Epistle to the Philippiaus, ii. 25. as the title 
of his fellow-soldier T^paphroditus, though there translated viesssiiger, 
meaning, perhaps, the a^nt of that Church, commissioned by them as the 
twelve had been by Christ, and Christ himself by his Father ; who is called 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Jposlle of our profession, iii. 1. 


a divine interposition ; but the guards were executed, as 
if they had connived at their prisoner's escape, and to an 
unscrupulous sovereign, their execution would appear the 
best method of stifling further enquiry, and any suspicion 
of a miraculous deliverance. Little did Herod, who from 
his age might anticipate a long reign, suspect that his 
own death was at hand, and that it would long precede 
that of his prisoner. He died, as he had lived, a monu- 
ment of the instability of human greatness. To conceal 
and to subdue his mortification, he retired to Cassarea, 
and inheriting his grandfather's taste for magnificence, 
and wishing to ingratiate himself with the Romans, 
by the indulgence of whom he reigned, he celebrated 
the games in honour of the Emperor. His vanity was 
at the same time gratified by an embassy from Tyre 
and Sidon. He had meditated war against them ; but as 
the limited territory of these enterprising merchants was 
dependent upon his dominions for food, they humbly 
solicited peace. He appointed a day to receive them, 
and showed himself in royal apparel, so curiously wrought 
with silver, that, struck with the beams of the rising sun, 
it emitted a dazzling lustre, which overawed the spectators. 
The 'peo'ple gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, 
and not of a man ; and immediately the Angel of the Lord 
smote him, because he gave not God the glory, and he was 
eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. Such is the brief 
and simple statement of the inspired author, and it is 
interesting to compare it with the fuller narrative of the 
Jewish historian**. According to Josephus, he addressed 
the ambassadors, and we may presume that the oration 
was calculated to exalt their notion, both of his power 
and clemency. When he had ended, his praises resounded 
from all sides, and, Forgive us, they exclaimed, if hitherto 
we have only reverenced you as a man, but henceforth 
'' Aut. xix. 8. 


we shall acknowledge you as more than mortal. We 
n)ay svippose that it was the speech of some of his 
heathen admirers. His vanity did not refuse the impious 
compliment, which indeed had been often offered to heathen 
sovereigns ; but when he, a worshipper of the true 
God, whose name is Jealous, and who does not give his 
divine honour to any created being, accepted this act of 
homage, he was instantly made an awful example of the 
just judgment of heaven. Herod did not reprove them, nor 
reject this impious flattery; and the avenging Angel instantly 
smote him with an invisible but irresistible stroke. Luke 
knew the agent, Josephus could only notice the disorder by 
which he fulfilled his master's command. Herod was seized 
.with pains in his bowels, he was carried immediately out of 
the theatre into his palace, and within five days expired. 
He acknowledged the justice of his sentence, and while 
surrounded with the symbols of majesty, and before their 
idolatrous acclamations had died away, he felt and confessed 
that he was but a man. 'Behold, I your god am commanded 
to surrender my life, and my fate convicts you of falsehood. 
I whom you styled immortal, am hurried to death.' With 
his premature decease, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, 
the persecution ended, and Juda?a, after a short nominal 
independence, became again a Roman province. Thus 
perished the second Herod, and was forgotten ; but, as Luke 
emphatically subjoins, the Word of Godgreio and multiplied. 



The narrative is now transferred to Antioch, and, 
with the exception of the important Council held at 
Jerusalem, the mission of Paul to the idolatrous Gentiles 


becomes its exclusive subject. A few of the leading 
members of this daughter Church are mentioned, who 
took an important part, we may well believe, in the 
progress of the faith ; but to us, though their works have 
followed them, they are mere names. From one, that 
of Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch, we 
learn, that there were already, at least, some instances of 
persons, if not of the highest I'ank, yet connected with them, 
who had renounced the world, to take upon them the re- 
proach of the cross. They were ministering to the Lord 
and fasting, engaged it should seem in their ordinary public 
worship, but not, as far as appears, with any view to the 
enlargement of the infant Church. The Holy Ghost we 
are told said to them. Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for 
the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had 
fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent 
them away. And this language strongly marks the per- 
sonality and the divinity of the third Person in the Godhead. 
The Mission therefore did not originate with any of these 
human teachers; who might have been content that they 
should spend and be spent in converting the people of An- 
tioch, a city which would have found them abundant work to 
the end of a protracted life. It was the Holy Spirit that 
sent forth these two extraordinary Apostles, to convert other 
lands from sin to godliness, emancipate them from the op- 
pressive yoke of Satan, and confer on them the glorious liberty 
of the children of God. Paul therefore might well tell the 
Galatians that he was an Apostle, not from men, nor through 
a ma7i, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father. As Saul 
and Barnabas had both been for a considerable time Ministers 
of the word, this imposition of hands does not imply Ordi- 
nation, nor did it convey any spiritual gift. It seems only 
meant as an indication of the cordial acquiescence of these 
prophets and teachers in the Divine will, and their public 
recognition of them as Missionaries; and is afterwards called, 


a recommendation of them to the grace of God for the work 
which they had fulfilled^. 

The late persecution, and other providential circumstances, 
as the return to their respective homes of the pentecostal 
converts, had extended, as it were accidentally, the Gospel 
not only to Damascus and Antioch, but to cities more 
remote, and among them we may infer to the metropolis 
of the empire. But this journey of Paul and Barnabas, 
with his nephew as their attendant, was the first undertaken 
with this express object, and in an age and country like 
ours, where commerce and colonial empire are made available 
to extend the reign of our Lord, an increasing interest is 
reflected back upon Missions undertaken and recorded 
by inspired men. Vfe only regret that the annals cease so 
soon, and that they are no more expanded ; but we may be 
assured that we have a sufficient sample of the Apostolic 
mode of teaching, and that more was not expedient for us, 
or it would have been preserved. We may apply the 
aphorism of Hesiod, that the half is better than the whole ; 
and among other benefits of this brevity, such as the con- 
tracting into a small volume a book designed for the study 
of all mankind, we may perceive, that if the account was 
as particular as that of a modern Missionary, those who 
now devote themselves to the work might feel it their duty 
to copy too servilely conduct suited to the manners of an 
empire and period unlike their own, and might walk precisely 
in the steps of their inspired predecessors, instead of forming 
their practice according to their principles, by acting as they 
think Paul would have done if in their actual position. 

Though the Mission originated not with man, but with 
the Holy Ghost, the choice of place was probably that 
of Paul and Barnabas, and the isle of Cyprus was the scene 
of their first labours. 

In tlie lloman empire, when the Apostles wejit forth on 
•» Acts xiv. 2(j. 


their office of converting mankind, our attention is arrested 
by three great varieties of national life. We see in the 
Hebrew nation a divinely laid foundation for the super- 
structure of the Church ; and in the dispersion of the Jews, 
a soil made ready in fitting places for the seed of the 
Gospel. We perceive in the spread of the language of 
Greece appropriate means for the communication of Chris- 
tian ideas, and in the union of so many provinces, widely 
differing from each other under the law and government of 
Rome, a strong frameworV, which might keep together for a 
sufficient period those masses of social life which the 
Gospel was intended to pervad?. The peculiarity of the 
Hebrew civilization did not consist in the culture of the 
imagination and the intellect like that of the Greeks, nor in 
the organization of government like the Roman, but its 
distinguishing feature was the worship of the one true God. 
Even in the period of their greatest prosperity, the pious 
Hebrew was by a succession of prophecy kept in expect- 
ation of still greater natural blessings, not only of enjoyment 
but of triumph. The past was the golden age of Greece 
and Rome, but that of the Jew was the future. Every 
thing in individual and collective life was connected with 
revealed religion, and unlike the recondite philosophy of 
Greece, which could be only communicated to the in- 
tellectual or the popular theology of paganism, which they, 
while professing it, disbelieved, the religion preserved in the 
Law was for the use and benefit of all, for the peasant as 
well as the Rabbi, and they were expressly instructed to 
teach it to their children, and to meditate on it continually. 
One peculiarity in the history of this singular people is 
their dispersion, first compulsory, and afterwards voluntary. 
The removal to Babylon first settled them in the far east, 
and the destruction of Jerusalem scattered them over Europe ; 
yet we know from Philo, the contemporary of Paul, and from 
most heathen authors, that they had previously planted them- 


selves for the sake of trade in foreign countries; yet they 
never lost their attachment to their own, and many of them 
. even from great distances occasionally fulfilled the duty of 
attending the great festivals at the Temple. They had 
settled in w^estern Asia even before Alexander, and that 
sagacious conqueror encouraged their coming to his new 
city in Egypt, where they were numerous enough to have a 
quarter to themselves, and where Onias the high priest 
set up a rival temple, which was destroyed, as well as the 
true house of God, by Vespasian. We find them in almost 
all the cities which Paul visited, and he always sought 
them in the first instance. They had formed chiefly at 
Alexandria, through the translation of their Scriptures, 
and the composition of the Apocrypha, out of Greek, a 
theological language, and this facilitated the Missionary's 
intercourse also with the heathen throughout the empire. 
Paul's Roman citizenship too gave him respectability, and 
as we learn from the narrative, was at critical periods the 
cause of his preservation, both at Philippi and at Cassavea. 
On the establishment of the empire, the frontier provinces 
on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates, where the 
Legions were principally stationed, had been reserved by 
Augustus, and were governed by his own Legates. The 
others, which were really equally under his control, were 
nominally left with the Senate, which continued to ad- 
minister them by Proconsuls. An insular province would 
fall naturally under the second class, in which we are 
expressly told<= that Cyprus was included; and on Paul's 
visit, we learn from Luke that it was under procon- 
sular administration. This large beautiful and productive 
island was devoted to the worship of Venus, who is 
called in consequence the Cyprian goddess, and enjoyed the 
epithet of Paphia from Paphos, the chief city in which she 

•> Couybeare and Howson's Life and Travels of St. Paul. 
« Dion Cassius, liv. 


had a celebrated temple. This fabled Queen of love did 
not attract, however, adoration from the charms bestowed 
upon her by the inimitable skill of the sculptor, exhibiting 
her as rising out of her birthplace the sea, the " bending 
statue which yet enchants the world," as the Venus of 
Florence has been called, or in any of the other attitudes 
on which the admirers of ancient art lavish their profuse 
praise. She was not represented as a beautiful mortal, but 
by a strange mysterious figure, described by Maximus 
Tyrius'' as resembling a white pyramid, and by Tacitus'' as the 
meta, that is, the conical boundary of the course, narrowing 
towards the summit, which will be understood by its appearance 
on the coins of Pergaraus^ under the Romans. The historian 
confesses his ignorance ; but those who have studied the 
philosophy, if so it may be called, of Greek polytheism, 
recognised in this symbolical image, what is more clearly 
exhibited in the Ephesian Diana, a representation of Nature, 
which under many names was the one great object of worship, 
Nor is this a fancy of modern speculation ; for the Pagan 
philosopher, Apuleiuss, introduces the Moon, declaring to her 
worshippers that she is the parent of all things, the sovereign 
of all elements, the uniform face of gods and goddesses, 
whom the Phrygians adore as Mother of them all, the 
Athenians as Minerva, the Cyprians as Paphian Venus, the 
Cretans as Diana, the Sicilians as Proserpine, the Eleusi- 
nians as Ceres, others as Juno, Bellona, Hecate, or Rham- 
nusia, and the Egyptians under the true name Isis. 

Cyprus recommended itself as a Missionary field to 
Barnabas, as his birth-place ; and many Jews were settled 
there, to some of whom Jesus had been already announced 
as the Christ by natives, who had been scattered by the first 
persecution, some of whom, as we have read, had even with 

^ Max. xxxviii. "= Hist. ii. 3. 

f Spanheim de Usu Numii5matum, Tom. i. Dis. viii. 6. 
8 Metamorph. xi. 


the Cyrenians founded the Church of Antioch, and might 
have connections in the ishvnd whom they thought disposed 
to receive the Gospel. These Missionaries passed through 
the whole length of Cyprus, from Salamis to Paphos, the seat 
of government, preaching first the word of God in the 
synagogue of the former town, where they must have 
landed. They did not solicit an audience of Sergius Paulus 
the Proconsul, but he of his own accord sent for them, 
and this in spite of Ely mas a sorcerer, apparently a Jew, 
who sought to turn away the Governor from the faith of 
which he desired to hear. He is called (tvvstos, ijitelligent, 
and we may presume was dissatisfied both with the popular 
idolatry, and the speculations of the philosophers, and was 
an anxious seeker of truth. Saul sharply rebuked the 
pretended magician as a child of the devil, who perverted 
the right way of the Lord, and the language implies that 
he was acting against his conviction. He denounced on 
him for his crime the most appropriate judgment, such as 
had formerly fallen on himself. He who wished to keep 
another in spiritual darkness, was himself visited with a 
temporary blindness. This punishment, which he could 
neither foresee nor prevent, exposed the vanity of his pre- 
tensions, and convinced the Governor that the preacher 
of Christ was endowed with a power superior to his. This 
manner of teaching doctrine, confirmed by miracle, con- 
vinced Sergius. The Apostle henceforth assumes the name 
of Paul. A Roman one was generally adopted by Jews, 
who had much intercourse with the heathen ; thus Barnabas's 
nephew is called Mark, and the Apostle's fellow-traveller 
and fellow-sufferer Silas, Sylvanus. It was especially 
desirable for the Apostle of the Gentiles, and no name 
could be more honourable than that of his noble convert, 
which difiered so little from SauP. Other explanations are 

'' Jerome suggests, that as Scipio was called Africanus, from his con- 
quest, so the Ajiostle canied away his new name as a trophy over tlie 


assigned, but none appear to me to be so probable as this. 
Hitherto Barnabas had taken precedence ; now it is Paul 
and Barnabas, (ver. 43.) and Paul and his company, (ver. 13.) 
As Paul is expressly said to have been filled with the 
Holy Ghost, the severity of his reprimand must be taken 
not as an intemperate sally of passion, but as a faithful 
exposure of his opponent's character ; and the miracle 
which followed proved by what impulse and by what 
authority he spake. 

From Paphos, Paul and Barnabas took a short voyage 
to Perga in Pamphylia, where, though we do not hear of 
any hardships endured by them, Mark deserted them, and 
returned to Jerusalem. They seem to have gone up the 
river to a city which bore the same name as the capital of 
the east, and was distinguished from it, and several others 
bearing the same name, as Antioch of Pisidia. Here, 
according to the Apostolic custom, they first delivered their 
message in the synagogue, which was also frequented by 
proselytes of the gate, called here and in other places, those 
who fear God. They probably sat down in the seats of the 
teachers, to which his education under Gamaliel would at 
least entitle Paul; and after the ordinary prayers, and the 
lessons from the Law and the Prophets, they were invited as 
a mark of civility to address a word of exhortation. He 
availed himself of this opening, and addressed them in a 
speech which bears a remarkable resemblance both in the 
quotations and its reasoning to the Pentecostal discourse of 
Peter. The first chapters of Deuteronomy and Isaiah are 
now read together in the synagogue, and were probably 
then. He commences with a reference to the former ; 
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and 
exalted the people when they dioelt as strangers in the land of 
Egypt, and with a high hand hroughl he them out of it, and 

heatlien proconsul ; while others conceive that it was conferred on him by 
his noble convert himself. 


about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the 
wilderness'^. He then, after the manner of Stephen, gives a 
brief sketch of his dealings with them, till the accession of 
David, preparing, by the enumeration of former temporal 
blessings, the way for the crowning mercy of Jesus, a 
spiritual Saviour, his seed according to promise. He, though 
proclaimed by the Baptist as Messiah, had been lately 
put to death at Jerusalem by their countrymen, who had 
thus unconsciously fulfilled predictions, which, though they 
heard them read out every sabbath, they did not understand. 
Paul now declared to these Jews and proselytes that God 
had raised him from the dead, and thus fulfilled the promise 
made to the fathers. As proofs, he refers to these predictions 
in the Psalms, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten 
thee : and, Thou tvilt not suffer thy holy one to see cor- 
ruption. He observed, that as it was well known that 
David had seen corruption, he could not be speaking of 
himself. He also referred to the sure mercies of David, in the 
everlasting covenant made with his Son, as the leader of the 
people, as recorded by Isaiah', and showed that they were of 
a spiritual nature, including in the forgiveness of sins a com- 
plete justification, such as the Law could not confer, being 
the doctrine which he afterwards proved and illustrated in 
various ways in the Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, 
and Hebrews. He concluded with an awful passage from 
Habakuk"^, warning them of the danger of neglecting so 
great salvation. Behold, ye desjiisers, and tvonder, and 

h The original, Deut, i. 31. The Lord thy God bare thcc as a man doth 
hare his son, is very different, and is thouglit by some critics more suitable 
than Paul's reading, which is from the Septuagint. But as the two diflfer 
only by a single letter, eVpot^Jprjo-e and fTpondp-na-f, both occur in the Sep- 
tuagint and in the Acts in diflfercut Mss. and Versions, and are both 
supported by eminent commentators. Griesbach rejects the common 
reading, which is retained in the \'ulgate. 

» Isaiah Iv. 3. "^ llabakuk 1. 5. 


perish ; for I loork a work in your days, a loork which ye 
will in no wise believe, tliough a man declare it unto you. 

The congregation on withdrawing, principally it should 
seem the proselytes, requested to have the subject again 
treated the next sabbath ; and many of both showed 
their respect to these preachers by following them to 
their lodging-; who, on dismissing them, exhorted them 
to remain in the grace of God, that is, in the state 
of salvation to which they had been brought. When 
the sabbath came, not only Jews and proselytes, but 
almost the whole city hastened to the synagogue, which 
excited the displeasure of the Jews, who began to revile 
and to contradict Paul. Emboldened instead of being dis- 
heartened by this opposition, Paul and Barnabas declared, that 
though it was proper that the word of God should be spoken 
first to his peculiar people, since they put it aside, 
judging themselves unworthy of eternal life, (for such is the 
inestimable message which they rejected,) they would turn 
to the Gentiles of Antioch ; and they justified themselves for 
an act so odious and so unpardonable, according to Jewish 
prejudice, by the authority of Isaiah i, who declared it to be 
a light thing that the Messiah should raise up the tribes of 
Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel, for Jehovah had 
also given him to be a light to the Gentiles, and his salvation 
unto the end of the earth. It followed, that it was lawful 
to announce him to those nations who had been so long in 
the shadow of death, and that they would welcome him as 
their Sovereign. The preceding verse showed, that though 
Israel (from pride and envy) were not gathered, the Messiah 
will still be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah ; a people 
lohom he hath not known shall serve him in the day of his 
power. Paul had declared, that the Jews had behaved as if 
they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, and there- 
fore he now turned to the heathen inhabitants. These 
' Isaiah xlix. 6. 


rejoiced, and glorified God for this saying, and as many of 
them as were disj)osed to receive this eternal life, believed. 

1 accept this translation of Whitby, because he condemns 
the ordained of our version as unfairly favouring Calvinism ; 
yet there is no substantial difference, for we are told, that the 
preparations of the heart are from the Lord; we read after- 
wards, that the Lord opened the heart to believe the teaching 
of Paul ; and there seems to be no reason why his words to 
the Thessalonians™, God hath not appointed us unto ivrath, 
hut to the obtaining of salvation, should not be applied to the 
believers in Antioch of Pisidia by Luke. The Jews, ex- 
asperated by the success of Paul and Barnabas, for they 
had made converts in the adjacent country as well as in the 
town, stirred up the chief men and the devout and honour- 
able women, that is, the proselytes, so that they were able 
to drive them away. They left behind them, however, proofs 
of their ministry ; and though their disciples would regret 
that they could no longer listen to their instructions, still 
the doctrine they had been taught was so consolatory, that 
they were filled with joy, and justly, for they were also 
filled with the Holy Ghost. 

Paul and Barnabas, shaking the dust off their feet, (ac- 
cording to the Lord's command,) as a testimony against 
the obstinate infidelity of these Jews, proceeded to 
Iconium, the capital of Lycaonia. Here, as in Antioch of 
Pisidia, they opened their commission in the synagogue. 
We have no report of their discourses, but we are told that 
a great number both of Jews and proselytes believed. They 
made a considerable stay, discoursed much, and had 
signs and wonders granted to them. The unbelieving 
party notwithstanding prevailed upon the authorities to 
take part against them, and consequently, to avoid being 
stoned, they found it expedient to retire to Lystra. Among 
their hearers in this place was one wlio had been a cripple 
'" 1 Thess. V. 9. 


from his birth ; and Paul, observing this man's attention, and 
perceiving from his mamier some indication of belief, 
v^^as directed to confirm his doctrine, by granting him 
the use of his limbs. He, giving credit to Paul's command 
to stand upright, lept and walked. Peter and John, at 
the opening of the Gospel dispensation, had w^rought a 
similar miracle with the happiest result. But here a heathen 
population, struck, as they could not fail to be, with amaze- 
ment, explained the cure on their owai idolatrous principles, 
exclaiming. The gods have come doivn to us in the likeness 
of men : it is added, that they spoke in their own tongue 
to explain why their design Was not at first understood. 
This they might do the more readily, because, as one 
of their legends taught them, that in the border country 
Phrygia, Jupiter and Mercury thus disguised had been 
entertained by Lycaon the king. Nor was this feeling 
confined to the lower ranks ; for the priest of Jupiter, who 
had a temple beyond the gates, came forward with garlands 
and bulls to sacrifice. Barnabas they called Jupiter, pro- 
bably because he had a majestic and more commanding 
air ; Paul, Mercury, as the leader of the discourse, the 
title applied by Jamblicus to the god of eloquence. 
It might also be occasioned by his comparative insignificant 
appearance, for by his own testimony to the Corinthians, 
his bodily presence was contemptible, being, if we may 
trust a satirist, only three cubits high, yet tall enough, 
adds Chrysostom, in alluding to this tradition, to reach 

These faithful ministers of Jesus, who had patiently 
endured reproach and ill treatment, were distressed by 
these well meant yet excessive honours, and rushing into 
the crowd, assured them that they were only men" of like 

n Philopatris and Chrysostom, cited in C'ave's Life of St. Paul, 8. 
» Like nature, not like passions, is the true version of dixowiraQus here, 
and where St. James (v. 17.) speaks of Elijah. The pagans never denied 
H 2 


nature with themselves, and directed them to that supreme 
unseen Benefactor, to whom their thanks were due, that living 
God, who Iiad created them, and fed them by his bounty, 
in giving them the rain, and fruitful seasons. Yet with 
all they could say, they with difficulty prevailed on them 
to give up their intention. The rapidity with which a 
disappointed populace will pass from one extreme to 
another, was evinced in the conduct of these Lystrans; 
for the Jews of Antioch and Iconium, inflamed by the 
same bigoted zeal which had once animated Paul himself, 
now came after these Missionaries, and so worked upon the 
susceptible minds of the fickle inhabitants, that they were 
persuaded to treat now as criminals those whom before they 
would have worshipped as gods. Paul as chief speaker 
was most obnoxious. He was stoned, and di-agged out of the 
city, as it should seem, in a state of insensibility, and supposed 
to be dead. Thus he nearly underwent the death he had 
assisted in inflicting upon Stephen; and it made a deep 
impression on his mind, for he tells the Corinthians p, 
that he was once stoned ; and he reminds his convert 
Timothy 1, a native of that very region, in his dying 
charge, of the persecutions awd afflictions which he 
had endured at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. The 
Lord, to whom belong the issues of life and death, was 
pleased to restore his servant ; for he rose up while the 
disciples were in sorrow standing round him, and returned 
into the city, to show that he had not been killed. But 
though restored to life, there must have been a miraculous 
interference to remove the natural effect of his bruises ; for 
the next day he accompanied Barnabas to Derbe. At this 
town, the most distant that they reached, they continued 

that their gods had human passions, but they attributed to them a total 
exemption from mortality and disease, the only distinction they made 
between gods and men. 

1' 2 Cor. xi. 25. q 2 Tim. iii. 11. 


some time, and taught many ; and then, regardless of 
personal danger, returned by the road they came, through 
Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, encouraging their converts, 
but warning them at the same time that it was only through 
much tribulation that they could enter into the kingdom of 
God. They oi'ganized them into congregations, appointing 
over them elders, taken of necessity out of their own body, 
and recommended them to the care of the Lord, in whom 
they believed. They now preached at Perga, which before 
they seem only to have passed through, and embarking at 
Attalia, returned to the brethren who had sent them, pro- 
bably four years before, on this mission. They then as- 
sembled the whole congregation, and gave them a particular 
account of all the Lord had done to them, and through 
them ; and in so doing showed how that it pleased God by 
their agency to open the door of faith to the idolatrous 



Here Paul and Barnabas abode long, and might have 
remained longer, had not a difference of opinion, the first 
that arose in the Church, called them to Jerusalem. Some 
Pharisees who had been converted came down to Antioch, 
maintaining, that unless the Gentile believers were cir- 
cumcised, they could not be saved. The Epistle to the 
Galatians, which throws much light upon this transaction, 
says, that they were false brethren, unawares brought in, 
who came in privily to spy out the liberty which believers 
had in Christ Jesus, in order to bring them into bondage. 
The dispute was concerning a fundamental tenet. The ob- 
servance of the Mosaic Law by the Jewish believer was not 


unlawful, when it proceeded from a mistaken conscience, 
which regarded what was once binding as of perpetual 
obligation, provided that it did not lead them to put a 
stumbling block in the way of their Gentile brethren, for 
whom also Christ died. But these men taught, that 
obedience to this ritual was indispensable to salvation, 
that is, that circumcision and the works of the law were 
express conditions of acceptance by God. This assertion 
subverted the Gospel, which is gospel, that is, good news, 
because it announces salvation, independent of any works, 
ceremonial as well as moral, as purchased by Christ, to be 
embraced by faith. On this vital question Paul gave place 
to them by subjection not for the shortest period, which 
he showed by refusing to circumcise at their desire Titus, 
a converted Gentile^. As he was afterwards obliged to 
tell the Galatians^, he said unto them in substance, if ye he 
circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing ; for I testify to 
every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the 
whole law; Christ is become of no effect to you : whosoever of 
you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace ; for ive 
through the Spirit iv ait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 
After discussions which did not settle the question, the 
Antioch Christians determined to send up Paul and Bar- 
nabas to Jerusalem, that the Apostles and Elders might 
authoritatively decide the controversy, and peace and uni- 
formity of doctrine might be restored. They accordingly 
W3nt, accompanied part of the way by the brethren, 
fourteen, or as some think seventeen, years after Paul's 
short visit of fifteen days to Peter. He went up by reve- 
lation, made either to himself or some of the Prophets at 
Antioch, and on their way through Phoenice and Samaria, 
they caused great joy unto all the brethren, by declaring 
the conversion of the Gentiles. At the meeting there was 
much disputing on both sides by the Elders, before Peter 
" Gal. ii. 3—5. b Gal, v. 2—5. 


rose up to give his opinion. He, James, and John were 
probably the only Apostles present; for they alone are named 
in the Epistle to the Galatians. Peter reminded the assem- 
bly, that some years before God had chosen him to announce 
the Gospel to the devout Cornelius and his family ; and had 
borne testimony to the sincerity and acceptableness of their 
faith, by conferring upon them the miraculous gifts of the 
Spirit, thereby visibly showing that he made no difference 
between them and Israel. God, by imparting to the believing 
Gentiles that inward holiness of which circumcision and the 
legal purifications were but types, had himself settled the 
question. Why then should they presume to tempt God, 
by putting upon them a yoke, which he had not designed 
to impose on them ; a yoke too which they as well as their 
fathers had found too heavy to bear. He suggested also 
the inconsistency of requiring from them as a necessary 
condition, what they allowed was not the foundation of 
their own hope. We believe, that through the grace of our 
Lord Jesus Christ we shall he saved even as they. Paul and 
Barnabas successively arose to support this confession, with 
many cases similar to that of Cornelius, which their recent 
mission enabled them abundantly to supply. The dis- 
cussion was closed by James, who presided apparently as 
Bishop even in the presence of Peter, who neither upon this 
or any other occasion recorded, claimed authority, or even pre- 
eminence, over the other Apostles. He confirmed Peter's 
judgment by the prophecy of Amos<=, which foretells that God 
will raise up again the fallen house of David for the pur- 
pose of converting the Gentiles ; and draws the conclusion, 
that as that was one of his secret designs from eternity, it 
was not for them to obstruct it by requiring, as a condition 
of their admission into the Church against their inclination, 
submission to the Law. He moderates however between 
the two extremes, by recommending as expedient, in order 
c Amos ix. 11, 12. 



to avoid scandal, that the Gentiles should in a few parti- 
culars conform to the practice of the Jews. A letter was 
drawn up according to his view addressed to the brethren of 
the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, informing them, 
that it was decreed by the Holy Ghost and by them that 
they need neither be circumcised, nor keep the Law ; but 
that they would do well to abstain from meat which had 
been offered to idols, from the use of blood, and from strangled 
articles of food, and from fornication. The converts on 
reading it rejoiced, as well they might, in the consolation 
of being suffered to continue to enjoy their Christian 
liberty. Thus firmly, yet gently, did the Apostles and 
Elders check a deadly heresy, subversive of the faith, while 
they yielded to the innocent prejudices of some scrupulous 

This meeting has been called the first General Council ; 
and the form of the decree, It hath seemed good to the 
Holy Ghost, has been cited as evidence of the inspiration 
and consequent infallibility of such assemblies. There is, 
however, this essential difference ; this was a meeting to 
decide a question; Councils only profess to prove from 
Scripture what ought to be believed ; nor can a precedent 
be fairly drawn from the decision of inspired men. It 
may be, though rarely desii-able, as it probably was at 
Nice in the reign of the first Christian Emperor, that 
a General Council should be held ; but, to use the words 
of the XXIst Article of our Scriptural Church, " for- 
asmuch as they be an assembly of men, v.hereof all 
be not governed by the Spirit and Word of God, they 
may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things per- 
taining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as 
necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, 
unless it may be declared that they are taken out of Holy 
Scripture." But, according to Burnett even this decree is 
<: Burnet ou the XXI Id Article. 


misconceived, if regarded as the result of immediate inspira- 
tion ; for he considers, that the assembly, using their 
own judgment, weighing Peter's observation, concluded, 
that what God had done in the case of Cornelius, was 
to be extended to all Gentiles ; so that the words, it 
seemed good to the Holy Ghost, related to that Apostle ; 
and it seemed good unto us, imports that they resolved 
to make it a general rule. This, he says, gives the words 
a clear and distinct sense, agreeing with all that went 
before ; whereas it looks very strange that they should add 
their own authority to that of the Holy Ghost; nor will it 
be easy to give any other consistent sense to the words. 

"While sacrificial worship continued, that is, till the 
necessary extinction of the system by the destruction of the 
only authorized altar, these prohibitions would have been 
observed wherever the breach of them would have given 
offence. But as that season has long ceased, as they are not 
mentioned in the Apostolical Epistles, and as Paul after- 
wards declared that every creature of God was good and 
none to be refused, we conclude the restriction to have been 
temporary ; and the more so, because the Israelites were 
allowed by the Law to sell to their neighbours animals which 
had died a natural death ; which shows that such rules 
were only of a ceremonial character, as we cannot suppose 
that they would have been allowed to tempt the Gentiles to 
sin^ These prohibitions were already binding upon prose- 
lytes of the gate. And as such indulgences tempted to 
idolatry, and were the concomitants of it, they were justly 
forbidden to all permitted to live under the Mosaic Law, 
for that polity was framed to preserve the Jews from that 
sin, and to point out its evil to others. It was obligatory 
therefore on them as long as that Law continued in force, 
and it was an act of charitable forbearance in Gentile converts 
in every city in which they had synagogues in which Moses 
"^ Lev. xvii. Deut. xii. 


was preached, by being read every sabbath day. St. Paul 
seems to have governed the Churches of his planting ac- 
cording to this decree, holding that things lawful were not at 
all times expedient, because not tending towards edification ^ 
According to Benson and Lord Barrington, this decree was 
designed only for proselytes of the gate, and for them only 
while the Temple services remained. The address is not to 
the Gentiles indiscriminately, but to the brethren of the 
Gentiles, in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. St. Paul in none 
of his Epistles to Churches, formed out of idolatrous 
Gentiles, even mentions this decree, and his argument with 
the Galatians*' expressly forbids compliance with the 
Jewish customs. His reasoning is, that if a Gentile con- 
sidered circumcision necessary to salvation, he laid a weight 
upon the Law incompatible with the mediation of Christ, 
and seeking to be justified by the works of that Law by 
which no flesh living could be justified. A Jew might keep 
the Law, and yet be faithful to Christ ; and so Paul con- 
tinued himself as a Jew, and bid the Jews continue, while 
he maintains the exemption from it of the Gentiles, and 
that all food was in its own nature clean. The Church of 
Antioch, the mother Church of the Gentiles, as Jerusalem 
was of the Jewish converts, had hitherto consisted only of 
Jews and proselytes, and had been formed before the Gospel 
had been preached to any idolater. Even at Jerusalem, Paul 
communicated only to James, Peter, and John, under seal 
of the greatest secresy that he had preached to any, and the 
reasoning of James and Peter refers only to such cases as 
that of Cornelius. If this be the true view, this decree was 
never binding upon the converts from idolatr}' to Christianity, 
and unless it be, abstinence from swine's flesh and other 
peculiarities of the Mosaic Law would have been enjoined. 

This solution enables us to reconcile this letter with our 
Saviour's declaration, that nothing which entereth into a 
'^ 1 Cor. vi. 12. X. 23. f Gal. v. 21. 


man defileth him ; and St. Paul's declaration, that he was 
persuaded by the Lord that nothing was unclean, unless to 
such as scrupled the lawfulness of eating it ; and he allowed 
the Christians at Corinth to eat meats offered to idols, 
provided they did not reverence the idols, harden idolaters, 
or offend weak brethren. 

The four prohibitions are, 1. meats offered to idols; 

2. animals put to death without any effusion of blood ; 

3. blood, whether in the meat or apart, as drunk or mixed 
with flour ; and 4. fornication : all closely connected with 
idolatry. These four prohibitions we can easily understand 
to be of temporary obligation ; but some perplexity has been 
occasioned by the addition of another, which being of a 
moral nature is, and must be, ever binding upon believers 
both of Jewish and Gentile extraction. To avoid the 
difficulty, violence has been done to the text; and while 
Bentley rashly suggests for Tropvsiu, without the authority 
of a single MS. ^oigsla, hogs' flesh, and Michaelis would 
translate it, flesh offered to idols and sold in the market, and 
some understand by it, spiritual fornication, that is, idolatry ; 
still the ordinary meaning must be retained; and as this sin 
was little regarded as such by the heathen, it might be expe- 
dient to exclude it by name from its frequent connection with 
the worship of heathen gods. The difficulty, says Bp. Marsh, 
consists in the seeming impropriety in the union of a moral 
precept with positive commands; and though a modern 
moralist would make a more accurate arrangement, we should 
observe the difference between popular and systematic teach- 
ing ; and may observe, that there is a similar union in the 
Decalogue, in which the moral command to abstain from 
adultery is united with the positive command to keep the 
Sabbath. We know that there have been, and probably 
still are. Christians who consider these restrictions as 
binding ; and it is understood that they are observed in 
the Eastern Churches. 


We learn from the Epistle to the Galatians, that Peter 
visited Antioch, where, like Paul, lie ate with the Gentile 
converts; but when certain pei'sons came down from James, 
he conformed to the Law, so that many, even Barnabas 
included, were led away by his example. We learn, that 
his conformity was blameable from Paul, who had courage 
and faithfulness to withstand him publicly. This visit is 
generally placed after the decree, to the procuring which he 
was so instrumental. It does not even go so far as his 
speech recommended, but takes a middle course. Dr. Hales 
however, following Basnage, dates this act of duplicity as 
early as Herod's persecution, when he certainly left Jeru- 
salem, and might have retired to Antioch. This date 
would vindicate his conduct, and make his speech in the 
assembly a recantation of his former hypocrisy, and a 
proof of candour. And if it had been subsequent, he might 
have opposed the decree as a shield against the Judaizers. 

Paul's second mission. 

Peter now disappears from the narrative, and Paul 
becomes the exclusive subject. He and Barnabas had 
been accompanied to Antioch by Judas, surnamed Barsabas, 
and Silas, chief men among the brethren, who being 
prophets (or preachers), exhorted and confirmed the body 
of believers. After some stay, the former had returned, 
when Paul proposed to Barnabas to visit the Churches which 
they had founded ; Let us see hoiv our hrethren do ; probably 
with a special reference to their conduct respecting the 
Law; for it is said, that as he went he communicated the 
decree, and the congregations were established in the faith, 
and increased in numbers. But his journey was not limited 
to their increase and edification ; he had already aspired to 


proclaim a crucified Redeemer where he had never yet 
been named, and he was the Apostle who introduced 
Christianity into Europe. The proposal, however, came to 
nothing, because the latter determined that his nephew 
should accompany them ; and the former objected, because 
he had deserted them on their first mission as soon as they 
had quitted Cyprus, which was as a home to him. We are 
told that the contention was sharp, which shows a defect of 
temper in one or both ; but Providence, which shapes our 
ends, rough-hew them as we please, and educes good out of 
evil, in this instance overruled human infirmity, to the 
more extensive circulation of his word, for their separation 
spread it at once in two directions. Barnabas with his 
nephew sailed for his own country, where he had once (if 
not still) some land, and the Acts mentions them no more ; 
but the First Epistle to the Corinthians^ sliows, that 
at the time of writing it he was actively labouring in the 
cause ; and Mark, reconciled to Paul, had become his com- 
panion, and during his final imprisonment he desired 
Timothy to bring him to him, because he was profitable to 
him for the ministry^. Luke adds, that the brethren recom- 
mended Paul to the grace of God. His passing over 
Barnabas, seems to indicate that they took part with the 

Paul substituted for Mai'k, Silas, who is sometimes called 
Silvanus, under which name he joins him with himself as 
author of the Epistles to the Thessalonians ; and he appears 
to be the Tertius, (that being the Latin rendering of his 
name,) to whom he dictated the Epistle to the Romans. 
Pie seems to have been, like himself, a citizen of Rome, and 
is thought to be the brother to whom Peter, judging him 
faithful, entrusted the conveyance of his First Epistle. 

Instead of going by sea as before, he now passed by land 
through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches. The 
^' 1 Cor. ix. 6. " 2Tim. iv. 11. 


latter was his own country, and probably the first scene of 
his Missionary labours. We next read of him at Derbe, 
and then at Lystra, where he found Timothy, then a j'outh, 
whom he had converted on his former visit. His father 
was a Gentile, who seems to have died during his childhood. 
As he had received a pious education from his mother 
Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, Paul chose this his own 
dearly beloved son in the faith, who had received mini- 
sterial gifts by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, 
to be his assistant ; and he circumcised him, not, as we know 
from himself, because he regarded circumcision or uncir- 
cumcision as any thing, hut faith zvhich icorketh hy love; 
but that he held it to be in a Jew an innocent conformity to 
custom, when not maintained to be necessary, and therefore 
would not, by omitting it, risk his exclusion from the 
synagogue, and so prevent his reading and expounding the 
Scriptures, which he had known from infancy. Thus he 
made himself to the Jews a Jew, in order to gain the Jews. 
Paul then set him apart to this office by the laying on 
of hands, and conferring upon him extraordinary gifts % 
which were accompanied with prophecies of his fitness 
and future usefulness. They proceeded through Phrygia 
and Galatia ; no particulars are recorded, but it must have 
been during this journey that he founded Churches in the 
latter, as the Epistle which he addressed to them could not 
have been long after, and was I think written at Corinth. 
His preaching there was, he observes in that Epistle, in 
the infirmity of the fiesh'^, referring to that bodily dis- 
order, most likely some imperfection in his articulation, 
caused some think by the visions of glory with which he 
had been favoured, which made his presence mean, and his 
person contemptible. In the Second Epistle to the Co- 
rinthians e, he calls it a thorn in the fiesh, a messenger 
of Satan to buffet him, lest he should he exalted above 
c 2 Tim. i. 6. " Gal. iv. 13. * 2 Cor. xii. 7—9. 


measure. It has often been supposed to be some sinful 
propensity which easily beset him ; but this is confuted by his 
own statement, for he concludes with saying, not that he 
will combat, but that he will most gladly glory in this 
infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon him ; for 
having thrice prayed to him to remove it, his answer was, 
My grace is svfficieiit for thee, for my strength is made 
perfect in iveakness. Certainly, though it seems to have 
been objected to lum at Corinth, he found it no impedi- 
ment to his success among the Galatians, for they received 
him as an angel, nay, as Christ himself, and, to use his own 
emphatic words, would, had it been practicable, have plucked 
out their own^ eyes, and given them to him. He worked 
miracles among them, and also communicated to them the 
gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

Hitherto the Apostle's course had been regulated by his 
own judgment; but the Spirit now interfered to give it a new 
and unmeditated direction, forbidding him on this occasion to 
preach in (the Proconsular province of) Asia, and afterwards 
in Bitiiynia. In Ephesus, however, the capital of the former, 
he afterwards made a long residence ; and the latter seems to 
have been included within the sphere of Peter's labours, to 
judge from his Epistle, addressed to the strangers scattered 
through that and the other northern regions of Asia Minor. 
Paul in consequence waited for further instructions at 
Alexandria Troas, not the new Ilium which had succeeded 
ancient Troy, but a seaport divided from Mount Ida by a 
deep valley, and founded by Antigonus. It had become a 
Roman Colony, and its amphitheatre and other ruins attest 
its then magnificence, and justify the statement, that of the 
eighteen cities named after Alexander, this was after the 
former capital of Egypt the most flourishing. Here a man 
of Macedon appeared to him, entreating him to come over 
the sea and help them. This vision bears a striking 
f Gal. iv. 13—15. 


analogy to the one which Josephus reports as appearing to 
the Macedonian conqueror. As Paul was entreated to come 
from Asia to bring Macedon into subjection to Christ, by 
one who had the air of a native ; so the king was invited to 
conquer the Persian empire and to liberate Jerusalem, by 
an apparition in the robes of the high priest. Paul and 
his companions, being satisfied that this was an intimation 
of the Divine will, were not disobedient to the heavenly 
vision. They embarked for Philippi, a chief city of the 
first of the four parts into which Macedonia was divided, 
on its conquest by Paulus ^milius. It derived its name 
from the first King Philip its founder; it is famous for the 
two battles in which the Roman Republic perished, with 
Cassius and Brutus, and was punished for its adherence to 
their cause, by being made a colony by the first two Em- 
perors, under the designation of Julia Augusta. A Roman 
colony was not like a modern mercantile factory, nor an 
offshoot, uTToixioc, from a parent state like a Greek settle- 
ment, which, though independent, retained a filial deference 
to the mother state. It was designed for the military 
protection of the frontier, or to keep in obedience a dis- 
contented province. It consisted of disbanded veterans, 
and therefore so many were settled by Augustus on the 
termination of the civil war. Thus each colony a 
miniature of the capital, and, as it were, reproduced Rome 
amidst an alien population. It was free from the juris- 
diction of the governor, paid a capitation tax, was amenable 
to Roman law, and was under the administration of two 
magistrates, like the Consuls called Duumviri, who some- 
times bore the more imposing title of Praetors, ^TpaTrjyo/. 

Luke now begins to use the plural number, and we presume 
that he joined the party at Troas, and the narrative as we 
might expect becomes more circumstantial. Short as was 
the distance, they did not reach Neapolis, the port of 
Macedon, till the second day, having stopped at the island 


of Samothrace. The Jews at Philippi must have been 
few, for they had only a house of prayer by the river side 
without the walls ; and here for the first time Paul pro- 
claimed Christ in Europe, seemingly to an audience ex- 
clusively of women. And by a mysterious providence, his 
first convert was no Macedonian proselyte, but a Vv^oman who 
came from the very Asia in which he had been forbidden 
to preach. She was a Lydian, and bore the name of Lydia. 
Her home was Thyatira, a city famous for dyeing the 
Tyrians purple, and she is described as a seller of purple 
garments. Though the Jews seem to have been a small 
and despised sect in this Roman colony, she was not ashamed 
of having turned from idols to worship the true God, and to 
be reckoned among his people, which, to say the least, could 
not have been favourable to her worldly interest. Her 
heart the Lord was pleased to open, so that she attended to 
the teaching of Paul. The result was the baptism both of 
herself and of her household, who we cannot doubt were 
also instructed in the truth ; and the reality of her conversion 
was shown, by her insisting upon their making her house 
their home. This she pressed so earnestly, that they could 
not refuse : though in providing them with a comfortable 
residence, she must have rendered herself unpopular in 
a heathen city, whose worship they condemned. Their 
residence there was very short, for a damsel possessed 
with the spirit of* divination, who brought her masters 
much gain by soothsaying, disturbed them several days, 
by following them in their walk, and exclaiming, These 
are the servants of the most high God, who shoio unto 
us the way of salvatioji. This declaration, as coming 
from a demoniac, could not be designed to promote the 
truth, for it had a tendency to check its progress among 

e An inscription in Spon Misc. iii. 93. shows that there was at Thyatira 
a Company of Dyers. 

•> The spirit of Python, so called from the Pythian Apollo. 


the Jews, who would from this testimony infer that 
Paul was in league with evil spirits ; and the conse- 
quence was indeed the abrupt termination of his preach- 
ing; for when compassion induced him to eject the 
demon, whereby the damsel lost her power of foretelling, 
her owners in fury seized him and Silas, and dragged 
them before the magistrates, accusing them of troubling 
the city by teaching customs contrary to the Roman 
law, which Philippi, as a colony, was bound to observe. 
They, without any investigation, commanded them to 
be beaten, and committed them to prison. The cure 
wrought by Paul seemed at first sight injurious to the 
cause; but the result, though it ended in his departure, shed 
such a glory upon it, as must have fixed the attention of all 
the inhabitants, and produced a stronger and deeper im- 
pression than a longer stay with them could have done. 
In the inner dungeon into which they had been thrust, they 
were not resigned, but joyful ; for God geive them songs in the 
night. They not only prayed, but sung praises loud enough 
to be overheard by the other prisoners, although they must 
have suffered from their late scourging, and were then in 
a painful posture, having their feet fastened into the stocks. 
It pleased Divine Providence that very night by an earth- 
quake to burst open the prison doors, and to free the 
prisoners from their fetters. The jailor awoke, and con- 
cluding they were all escaped, in a fit of despair, anti- 
cipating a sentence of death from the magistrates, was upon 
the point of destroying himself, when Paul prevented him, 
by assuring him that they were all there. The jailor then 
brought them out, and falling at their feet, puts to them 
tlie all-important question. Sirs, what must I do to he saved? 
and immediately obtains the short yet comprehensive 
answer, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The jailor no 
doubt had heard of the dispossession of the demoniac, 
which had led to their imprisonment; he rightly interpreted 


the earthquake into a Divuie interposition, and he could 
not fail to be affected by that kindness which had saved 
him from self-destruction. His alarm began for his life, 
but under the influence of the Holy Spirit, it was turned 
into fear for his soul, a fear of which, as a pagan, he had 
a short time before most likely not a conception. What 
must I do to he saved? may be understood with a reference 
to his life, if we look only to the meaning of the words ; 
but as all the prisoners remained in custody, tliat danger 
was now at an end; and the sequel shows that he was a 
true convert, for he removed them to his house, washed 
their stripes, entertained them, and, professing his faith, 
was baptized, together with all his, who were also taught 
the way of salvation ; and though he had reason to fear 
the magistrates for his avowal of the cause which they 
punished, his trembling was turned into joy. Believe 
on the Lord Jesus, is all what Paul is specified to have 
said; but it is evident, that he must have communicated 
a sketch at least of the real office of the Messiah, to 
render his demand of faith in him intelligible ; and that 
the jailor must have been convinced of there being a 
future state of happiness, and of the necessity both of a 
fitness for it, and of a title to admission into it. The plan 
of the author of the Acts does not permit him to enter into 
particulars ; but he adds, that they spake the word of the 
Lord to him, and to all that were in his house. As soon as 
it was day, the magistrates sent their lictors, the very persons 
that had been employed by them to scourge Paul and Silas, 
to release them, thinking no doubt they had gone too 
far in punishing them without enquiry ; and it may be, 
having themselves some misgivings in consequence of the 
earthquake, that they might really be what the possessed 
damsel had called them, the servants of the most high God. 
Paul was never unwilling to suffer for his Master's sake, and 
he had no wish to avenge himself, but he felt it his duty 


to obtain reparation for the wrongs he had suffered. He 
declared, that they had publicly been scourged, and had 
been imprisoned though uncondemned, and even citizens of 
Rome ; he therefore required that the magistrates them- 
selves should come and dismiss them honourably. In the 
tumult of the preceding day they had either not been able 
to plead their privilege, or the plea had been disregtirded ; 
but the magistrates, now it was stated, were seriously 
alarmed. The prisoners had been treated with a cruelty 
which would not have been exercised on any freeman, and 
which could only have been tolerated on the person of a 
slave. To a Roman citizen it was customary to allow bail, or 
detention in a magistrate's house, and he ought only to be 
imprisoned before trial on a charge of an heinous offence. 
An appeal to Rome would at the least procure the degra- 
dation of the magistrates ; they therefore obeyed the sum- 
mons of their prisoner, made an apology for their in- 
justice, and submissively entreated them to leave the city. 
Paul and Silas thought fit to comply with their request; 
but first they returned to the house of Lydia, and com- 
forted the brethren. 

The assumption of citizenship by one who did not 
possess it was a capital offence. The discretion of Paul 
in availing himself on this occasion, and afterwards at 
Jerusalem, of his privilege as a Roman citizen, is de- 
serving of notice, as it proves that his zeal was unalloyed 
with any portion of enthusiasm. He never, like some 
mistaken fanatics, courted persecution ; he used every 
lawful method of avoiding disgrace and suffering, and yet 
never shrunk from them when duty called upon him to 
endure them. His conduct on this occasion, in i"equiring 
the magistrates to come in person to release them, must 
have convinced the whole city, of their innocence, secured 
the jailor from any ill treatment in consequence of his kind 
behaviour, and raised in public estimation the respectability 


of the new religion which they taught. The modern idea 
of nobility, which gives rank and privileges independent of 
office, was unknown in the Roman empire ; but this dis- 
tinction of citizen of Rome conferred, as we see in the case 
before us, a dignity in some respects similar, and which like 
that was hereditary. It was conferred as the reward of 
merit, and might be purchased, and was the birthright both 
of those who inherited it from their fathers, and of those 
who were born in particular places, as the colonial towns. 
The privilege was first extended to all natives of Italy ; 
then by Claudius to those of Gaul ; and finally abolished in 
fact by Caracalla, who communicated it to all his subjects. 
Scourging was an indignity that no degree of guilt could 
justify the inflicting upon a Roman citizen ; he could not 
be put to the torture, and he had in all cases a right of 
appeal to the supreme tribunal in the capital from tlie 
provincial courts. " To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, 
to scourge him impiety ; to put him to death, almost 
parricide. What shall I say of raising him on the cross ? 
such an impious act can by no means be called by an 
adequate word. Judges, a Roman citizen was beaten 
with rods in the midst of the forum of Messana ; mean- 
while no groan, no other expression of the unhappy 
wretch, was heard amidst the pain and sound of the blows, 
but this, I am a Roman citize7i, imagining that by this 
declaration of his citizenship he should repel all strokes, 
and remove this torture from his body. O, sweet name 
of liberty! O, excellent right of our city! O, Porcian 
law and Sempronian laws ! Are all things come at 
length to this, that a Roman citizen in a province of the 
Roman people should in the market place be beaten with 
rods ?" It is plain, from this splendid declamation of Cicero 
against Verrcsy, that in his own estimation, and in that of 
those whom lie addressed, the title of Roman citizen was 
1 Orat V. 62, 63, 66. 


superior to every other; and it is not likely that it should 
have sunk in dignity, when almost all the then world had 
-become subject to the Roman people. 

In Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, written many 
years after, in which he calls them his dearly beloved 
and longed for, his joy, and his crown', he showed that 
they were peculiarly dear to him, by accepting from 
them once and again, and even when so far from them 
as at Rome, pecuniary aid, which he would take from no 
other of his Churches. Of the many who there adorned the 
doctrine of God their Saviour in all things, that were true, 
honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, two alone are 
specified in the narrative, and they afford a delightful en- 
couragement, that all who seek the Lord shall find him. Few 
natural characters seem more opposite than those of Lydia 
and the jailor ; the one, a mild and gentle female, frequenting 
the place where prayer was wojit to be made; the other, a 
man whose office had at least a tendency to harden him. 
But when the Lord imparted his grace to each, there w^as a 
great resemblance. Both publicly confessed the name of 
Jesus, and both courteously received the Apostle". 

Paul and Silas, not discouraged by the insults and suiFei*- 
ings which they had encountered at Philippi, proceeded, 
accompanied certainly by Timothy and perhaps by Luke, 
along the great Roman road, through Amphipolis and 
Apollonia, probably without stopping, to Thessalonica. 
Therm £e had received that name either from a victory of 

' Philippians iv. 1,8, 14—16. 

'> It is said both of Lydia and the jailor, that they were InjHized, with 
all their household; and infants it is assumed, by many paedobaptists, 
were in their families. This of course is a mere conjecture, and the 
doctrine finds stronger support from the Apostle's argument to the Co- 
rinthians, (1 Cor. vii. 14.) eke were your children tmclean, but noiv are 
they holy, being sanctified by the believing parent. But the decisive 
proof to my mind is, the analogy of circumcision, which was enjoined on 
the eighth day after birth. 


Philip's over the Thessalians, or from the name of liis 
daughter, who became the wife of King Cassancler. It was 
the capital of the second division of Macedonia, and the 
residence of the Proconsul, and was a commercial city, with 
a numerous and opulent population''. Paul, according to 
his custom, first proposed the Gospel to the Jews and the 
proselytes for three sabbaths. It was impossible that 
they should receive it until their erroneous preconceptions 
of the nature of the Messiah's reign were corrected. 
Their own ScrijDtures they allowed to be the infallible 
test of doctrine and rule of faith ; and Paul consequently, 
in imitation of his Master on the walk to Emmaus, proved 
out of these Scriptures that Christ must needs have suffered, 
and risen from the dead. From these premises he drew 
the conclusion, that Jesus whom he proclaimed was the 
predicted Messiah, showing how these prophecies had been 
accomplished in him. The result was, the conversion of 
some of the Jews, of many of the proselytes, and of a few of 
the chief women. The unconverted collected a mob, and 
attacked the house of Jason, who had received them. Paul 
and Silas were probably purposely concealed, for they 
could not be found ; but Jason and other converts were 
brought before the authorities on the charge of treason, for 
maintaining that there was another king beside Csesar, one 
Jesus. The magistrates it seems did not credit the charge, 
because they dismissed them without any investigation, only 
taking security for their peaceable behaviour. It was however 
no longer prudent, if safe, for Paul and Silas to remain, 
they were therefore that very night sent away to Berasa. 

If the narrative in the Acts was our only account of this 
visit to Thessalonica, we should have concluded that their 

b Under the name of Salonika; it is now the most flourishing city of 
modern Greece, with a population of 70,000 souls, half of which are Jews, 
who have the chief trade in their hands. Jexcish hdclligcnce for 1849, 
p. 374. 


stay little exceeded three weeks ; but we learn from Paul's 
Epistles to the congregations which he had formed there, 
that he stayed long enough to receive assistance twice from 
the PhilippiansS which with his habits of being hungry as 
well as full, he would not have needed in so short a 
residence, especially as while there^ he worked for his own' 
maintenance, and that of those who laboured with him. 
Luke must therefore mean, that after these three sabbaths, 
he turned to the Gentiles, among whom his entrance was 
not in vain^. The Church was gathered out of them, for he 
reminds them^, that they had turned from idols to worship 
the true living God; and the Epistles have no allusions 
to the Law, or Judaizing believers. 

At Beraea Paul found Jews of a more ingenuous dis- 
position, who listened to him attentively, and daily com- 
pared his doctrine with the Scriptures, in order to form a 
correct judgment of it. But this promising opening was 
soon closed, for his persevering opponents followed him 
from Thessalonica ; and it was judged prudent that he, the 
chief object of their enmity, should retire to another city. 
He was accordingly taken along to the coast, as if he 
intended to embark, but was really conveyed by land to 
Athens, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 

Luke so much studies brevity, that he notices few facts 
that do not lead to some observation. He therefore passes 
over the conversion of the Greek inhabitants of Thes- 
salonica, though we learn from Paul's first Epistle to 
them that the Gospel had come to them with power 
and with the Holy Ghost s. From this omission we infer, 
that miraculous signs followed believers in all the Churches 
of Paul's planting, and as an ordinary result were not 
mentioned, unless they led to remarkable consequences. 
Thus he takes no notice of those at Corinth, though St. 

"= Philip, iv. 14—20. ^ 1 Thess. ii. 9. 2 The>s. iii. 8. 

'' 1 Thess. ii. 1. f 1 Thess. i. 9. k 1 Thess. i. 5. 


Paul's Epistles show that the Church there abounded in 
spiritual gifts derived through himself. 

We have seen the Gospel triumphing over bigotry, and 
constraining Jews to accept it as the interpretation and 
completion of the Law ; and we have also seen it cordially 
embraced by idolaters, whose hearts God opened to wel- 
come it. We have now to notice its conflict with heathen 
wisdom, Athens, " built nobly on the Mgean shore," which 
distinguished itself far above all the cities of Greece, first 
by its spirit of independency, and then by its ambition, and 
its aspirations after intellectual preeminence. It soon became 
preeminent not only for statesmen and orators, but also for 
poets and philosophers. None have been more competent 
to judge of its claims to literary and moral supremacy 
than our great Poet, who in his immortal works has shown 
himself so well read in the " brief sententious precepts" of 
those, whom he designates as " teachers best of moral 
prudence, its lofty grave Tragedians." He entitles it, " the 
eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence, native to 
famous wits, or hospitable to others," who sought in it a 
home, in which they might devote themselves to philosophical 
study and discussion. After the struggles of its " fierce 
democracy" had failed, it yielded first to the Macedonian 
kings, and then to their conquerors ; and it was the boast 
of Athens, that though Rome had subjugated the bodies of 
men, Greece had subjugated their understanding, even that 
of those universal conqueror's themselves. Reduced to a 
provincial town, it remained the intellectual capital of the 
world, yet still it sought in vain by speculation to discover 
the most important truths. And this by the way shows us 
the superior accuracy of the scriptural division of mankind 
into Jew and Gentile, to the classical one into Greek and 
Barbarian. Athens, it is well known, has been praised by 
Cicero, who twice visited it, and sent his son to study there ; 
for it had become, and long continued to be, a kind of 


University, in which the Roman youth were instructed in 
philosophy and oratory. About a century later, the Emperor 
Antoninus, who had studied there, established two Pro- 
fessorships of the four Philosophical Schools, as well as two 
of Rhetoric, and two of Law, under a President, called the 
Prefect of the youth, who commenced with philosophy, 
and proceeded through rhetoric to law. To the two latter 
teachers he assigned a salary of a talent, to the former of six 
hundred pieces of gold. Lucian describes Athens as swarm- 
ing with philosophers. Every where, says that satirical 
writer, you see a long beard and a book in the left hand, 
and the walks full of company, discoursing and reasoning. 
The Trihonium, the cloak common to them all, was in general 
dark ; only that of the Cynics was white, and often tattered. 
They and the Stoics, and even the Peripatetics, of whom they 
formed a section, were, he tells us, slovenly, but the Sophist 
was adorned with purple ; and the Professor ought, he said, 
to be handsomely clothed, and to have a flowing beard, to 
inspire those who approached him with the respect due to 
his office and salary. Athens continued to be a place of 
education under the Christian Emperors ; and the apostate 
Julian studied there at the same time with those two 
eminent Greek Fathers, Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, 
from whom we have a curious account "^ of the eagerness 
with, which pupils endeavoured to secure a new comer for 
their own tutor, and the ceremonies which preceded the 
assuming the Academic habit. The Professors were ori- 
ginally paid by their pupils ; but some property in houses 
and lands had been settled on them, for Epicurus had 
bequeathed his garden, and the patrimony of Plato afforded 
a considerable rent ''. 

The inscription over the yet remaining Temple of Jupiter 
below the Acropolis, " This is the city of Hadrian," shows 

? Oration xx. 

'■ Dr. ChaiuUcr's Travels, v..l. ii. rli. 24. 


how much that Emperor, who founded a public library at 
Athens, had embellished that celebrated city. The imperial 
bounty may be traced even under the successors of Con- 
stantine, though the philosophers continued, to close their 
eyes against the light which had come into the world to 
enlighten it, and studied to uphold the falling system of 
the popular belief, by allegorising its indecent or ridiculous 
mythology. A century after Julian, Proclus argued against 
the Christian doctrine of Creation ; still he was allowed to 
occupy the Chair of the Academy ; and his successors may 
be traced from about fifty years after his death, till the 
Schools of Athens were finally closed by an edict of Jus- 

Plato, who deteriorated the common sense philosophy of 
his master Socrates, whose boast it was to have brought 
down philosophy from heaven to men's business and bosoms, 
with the obscure and as some think sublime mysticism of 
the followers of Pythagoras, was the founder of the first 
School. His pupil, Aristotle, whose close discriminating 
reasoning is strongly contrasted with his master's fanciful 
speculations, formed the second ; and after a considerable 
interval, Zeno and Epicurus, under the Macedonian kings, 
established their systems, which in the time of St. Paul 
seem to have nearly superseded the earlier ones. The 
four most approved in modern times are thus briefly yet 
graphically sketched by the historian of the Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire'. " In the suburbs of the city, 
the Academy of the Platonists, the Lycaeum of the 
Peripatetics, the Portico of the Stoics, and the Garden of 
the Epicureans, were planted with trees, and decorated with 
statues ; and the philosophers, instead of being immured 
(like many of the Schoolmen, the admirers and imitators 
of Aristotle) in a cloister, delivered their instructions in 
spacious and pleasant walks, which at different hours were 
' Vol. vii. cli. xi. 


consecrated to the exercises of the mind and body. The 
systems which professed to unfold the nature of God, of 
man, and of the universe, entertained the curiosity of the 
philosophical student ; and according to tlie temper of his 
mind, he might doubt with the sceptics, or decide with 
the stoics, sublimely speculate with Plato, or severely 
argue with Aristotle." " Plato, unlike his master Socrates 
and his pupil Aristotle, who divided with him the ad- 
miration of future ages, enjoyed the public favour in life 
and in death ; while the former suffered as the martyr of 
his philosophy, and the latter by flight prevented the 
Athenians from committing a second crime against it. In 
Athens, the fame of Aristotle, who so long survived him, 
and who may be considered as the teacher of all the know- 
ledge, natural or moral, then extant, must have eclipsed his 
school, which was feebly sustained by his successors, who, 
more by the charm of his name than by their own abilities, 
kept it alive. It divided in time under Arcesilaus and 
Carneades, into the middle and new Academy, which owe 
their celebrity chiefly to Cicero, who though they did not, 
like the followers of Pyrrho, absolutely maintain that all 
opinions were equally uncertain, still determined that all 
truths have some falsehoods adjoined to them, so very like, 
that there is no certain mark to decide our judgment or 
assent." Not many years after, the voice of Plato had ceased 
to be heard amid the groves of Academus; a more enduring 
monument was raised to him in the School of Alexandria, 
where, as in a fitting temple on the confines of the eastern 
and western worlds, was enshrined the philosophy, which 
had moulded into one the inventions of Greece and the 
traditions of Asia. The disciples of this School, while 
they boasted of his name, exaggerated and disfigured his 
doctrines. But the system, though less satisfactory to the 
judgment than the cold reasoning of the Stagyrite, who is 
said to have dipped his ])en in pure intellect, was attractive 


to the fancy ; and it alone of all the speculations of the 
philosophers, continued to flourish after the establishment of 
Christianity, among believers as well as their opponents ; 
who endeavoured to support and rationalise Paganism, 
by allegorising its fables as ingenious vehicles of physical 
facts or moral truths. Origen and succeeding Fathers 
maintain, that Plato was acquainted with the doctrine 
of the Trinity, and had derived his superior ethical views 
from the Hebrew Scriptures. Platonism, which was recom- 
mended by Augustine, the great Doctor of the Western 
Church, prevailed, till the argumentative character of Scho- 
lastic Theology gave the ascendancy to Aristotle ; still even 
the speculations of the Church continued to be for the most 
part Platonic in their principles, though they were con- 
ducted and modified by the dialectical method of his pupil. 
The works of this philosopher are so full of matter con- 
densed into the fewest possible words, that they seem not 
so much meant for the reader, as notes for his own use, to be 
expanded in oral instruction. His successor, Theophrastus, 
had the exclusive benefit of this precious legacy ; and his 
fame, afterwards so great in every department of knowledge, 
and so universal and so enduring, suffered a temporary eclipse ; 
for these manuscripts were removed to Scepsis in Asia, and 
selfishly secreted there, lest the king of Pergamus should 
seize them, to enrich the library which he was founding, and 
they were not restored for more than a century to the place in 
which many of them had been written. As time advanced, the 
Epicurean and Stoic Schools became the most popular. 
Pleasure, according to the former, the end and aim of life, 
recommended a system, which, as commonly understood, 
allowed the unrestricted gratification of the senses, to the 
great majority, who are naturally, as Horace exjDresses it, 
" hogs of Epicurus' stye ;" for though the founder was 
most abstemious, and placed enjoyment in a state of mind 
and body incompatible with a life of sensuality ; still. 


as selfish indulgence was the motive, his arguments were 
as applicable to the contrary practice, since temperance 
- was recommended by him not as a duty, of which he could 
have no conception, but as best promoting a man's real en- 
joyment. . The Epicureans were practically atheists ; main- 
taining that the world was eternal, and had been brought 
out of chaos into form by a fortuitous concurrence of 
atoms. They allowed the existence of the gods, pro- 
bably not to give offence to the vulgar, for they excluded 
them from any concern for human affairs, and described 
them as enjoying the supreme good, a life of indolent 
contemplation, unruffled by care or desire. The few of 
nobler mind were attracted by the loftier pretensions of the 
Stoics; and their system, which was about this period digni- 
fied by the wealthy Seneca, and afterwards by the slave 
Epictetus and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who alike 
professed to be unaffected by external circumstances, was as 
gratifying to intellectual pride, as that of Epicurus was to 
the voluptuary. That philosopher's own notion of pleasure 
was the freedom of the body from pain, and of the soul 
from perturbation; but he allowed, that he had no higher 
principle than expediency, and recommends frugality and 
temperance, because favourable to health ; for a man is 
to do all things for his own sake. He is accordingly 
justly charged by Epictetus with having mutilated the 
duties of a master of a family, of a citizen, and of a friend. 
The Stoics professed to believe in one supreme Governor 
of the universe, and in the immortality of the soul. Their 
extant writings have a specious show of piety, but it is no 
more than show. Even a superficial examination will prove 
it to be 

Vaiu wisdom all, and false philosophy. 

Their language respecting the Deity is eloquent and sublime, 
but when analysed, we find it to be Pantheism, wiiich con- 


founds the Avorkmaii with the work, and, unable to conceive 
creation out of nothing, considers all beings 

As only parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body nature is, and God the soul. 

Sympathy with man, their Deity upon their principles 
could not have, and his Providence was synonymous with 
Fate, the decrees of which, by some unexplained necessity, 
God as well as man was obliged to obey. They believed that 
the human soul was literally a particle of divinity, and its 
immortality, on which they expatiated, was only an absorption 
into the essence from which it had been severed ; an eternity 
without consciousness, differing but in name from annihila- 
tion, compared by themselves to a vessel floating on the 
waves, which when broken pours out its contents into its 
parent sea. Their morality was in some respects good, and 
superior to that of the other Schools ; but its basis was 
pride, and they dared to exalt their imaginary sage, their 
perfect man, their idea of human perfection, above God 
himself, since, according to them, the latter was wise from 
nature, the former from choice. 

All, however they might differ in their estimate of their 
respective Schools, indulged in the highest panegyric of 
Philosophy. They agreed, that nothing more excellent, 
nothing more beautiful, nothing more beneficial to human 
life, had been given by the gods, to use the language of Cicero'', 
nor, according to Plato i, could be given. It hath instructed us 
in the first place, says the former™, in what relates to religion ; 
next, in justice; and then, in sobi'iety and magnanimity of 
mind. The performance, hov/ever, fell lamentably short of 
the promise ; and because philosophers did not act up to 
their precepts, and often contradicted one another, they 
were little respected by the people, who preferred the 
teaching of the poets. Cicero confesses, that Philosophy 
was content with few judges; that it designedly shunned 

^ Di: Legibus, i. 22, - ' Tiiuteus. '" Tuscul. D. i. 2(j. 


the multitude, and was in time suspected and hated ; so 
that any one who set himself to abuse it, would have a 
-favourable audience. The philosophers affected to regard 
it as beneath their dignity to condescend to the masses. 
It is a work of difficulty, says Plato, to discover the Maker 
and Father of the universe, and to declare him to all 
impossible ; and few, we are told by a Origen, profited by his 
works, which were only in the hands of the learned. As the 
popular religion had its mysteries, so the philosophers kept 
back their real opinions, for an audience fit, and therefore 
few, and owed much of their reputation to this reserve. 
The more we, who have had the privilege of being taught 
by God, study their remaining works, the moi-e we shall be 
convinced, that they, 

Ignorant of themselves, of God much more, 

And how the world began, and how man fell, 
can only mislead, 

Talking much, and all awry, 

And in themselves seek virtue, and to themselves 

All glory arrogate, to God give none. 
The best that can be said of any is, that we may select 
from them precepts, which, detached from the context, are 
good, but if we endeavoured to conform our lives to them, 
we should find them to be blind guides. Nor indeed have 
we a right to expect more, since they searched as it were 
in the dark, with no other guide than the light within, 
which was only strong enough to show in what darkness 
they were wandering, but was no light unto their paths, nor 
lamp unto their feet. It is often assumed, that among the 
Greeks and Romans, though the nations were polytheists, 
their philosophers, though they might from fear or policy 
conform to the established worship, believed in one Supreme 
Being; yet Justin Martyr, who before his conversion had 
been one of them, observes, that their theology was more 
ridiculous than that of the poets. Passages might certainly 
be selected fro2n their writings, which, detached from the 


context, would prove them to be rational ; yet a full 
investigation will show, that with the phrases of piety 
on their lips, they were pantheists or atheists, or still 
retained some attachment to the polytheism of the vulgar ; 
for in speculating on the Deity, they intermix with strange 
inconsistency the singular and plural numbers. With 
their ignorance of the only true God, they could have 
no correct or influential notions of his providential govern- 
ment. The doctrine, as we have seen, was altogether 
rejected by the Epicureans. Of the rest", some main- 
tained that gods and men were alike controlled by fate ; 
others, that their providence extended not below the 
Moon ; and none probably went beyond Seneca °, who 
represents it as exercising a guardianship over the race, 
but only sometimes taking care of individuals; and forgetting 
that God could never weary, the}^ thought he must be 
miserable if he troubled himself with the management of 
many concerns. To such a God, who at the best was but 
the primary mover of the universe, they did not hold 
themselves responsible ; and consequently they resolved all 
obligation into submission to the laws or to opinion. 
Personal purity could not be expected from a nation, which 
worshipped gods avowedly of the same passions with them- 
selves, to which they were fabled to give way without 
censure, and were consecrated by their example. Even 
philosophers ranked the gratification of animal desires 
among things indifferent, which did not detract from re- 
spectability. And though Plato banished the poets from 
his Republic, on account of their immorality ; yet he 
introduced into it a community of women, which even the 
most lax of modern moralists would be ashamed to advocate. 
Origen p had the philosophers in his mind, when he speaks 
of those who, like the vulgar, walked in uncleanness ; and 

" Cicero de Natura Deorura, iii. " Epist. 95. p Origeu contra 

Celsura, vii. 


at this very time, Paul pressed upon his Thessalonian 
converts "^, that they should abstain from fornication, and 
every one possess his vessel in sanctijication and honour; 
not in the lust of concupiscence, as the Gentiles who know 
not God. This then is a prohibition peculiar to revealed 
religion. The earlier philosophers affirmed, that it was the 
duty of man to bear with fortitude and resignation the lot 
assigned to him; but the Stoic, instead of submitting to the 
Divine will as to a fatherly chastisement, armed himself with 
an arrogant boast, that pain and misery were no evils to the 
sage ; yet if he ever felt those to be such, he took it as 
a hint to retire out of the world. If, says Epictetus, the 
house is in a smoke, if it be moderate, I will bear it; if 
grievous, I will go out ; for you must remember always, 
that the door is open'^: and suicide is expressly recommended 
by him in other jDassages, as it is also by Marcus Aureliuss. 
Seneca* panegyrises the death of Cato, as most glorious; 
and the younger Pliny" makes the choice of life or death 
the sign of a great soul. The doctrine comes certainly with 
the worse grace from those who boast, that virtue under all 
circumstances is sufficient for happiness ; and that the sage 
is perfectly happy, even while enduring extreme torments. 
The virtues inculcated by these moralists are chiefly those of 
public life ; the duties of private, more important because 
more general, are scarcely noticed, because they wrote with 
the ambition of forming statesmen, not of making good 
husbands, fathers, or masters. 

Humility was not allowed to be a virtue ; none scruj)led 
to prefer an useful falsehood to an injurious truth; and 
the forgiveness of injuries was seldom practised, and not 
understood, either by the vulgar or by philosophers. The 
later Stoics, in recommending it, placed it on a wrong 
foundation, or pushed it to an injurious excess ; and some of 

'\ I Thess. iv. 3 — 5. "■ Epictetus, 1. xxv. 2. " Meditat. v. 29. 

' Seneca, Ep. 70. " Ep. i. 22. 


them, as Seneca, maintained, that a wise man ought never to 
pardon, pardon being the remission of a punishment, which 
ought to be exacted'. Aristotle ^^ speaks of meekness as 
erring by defect ; and it is coldly that Cicero recommends 
forgiveness, if that can be called recommendation, which 
enjoins a measure to be observed in punishing''. Even 
granting philosophy a completeness, and an exemption 
from error, which it has never claimed, it is as a rule of 
life deficient in authority. The philosophers delivered 
their maxims, but they had no weight, because the de- 
terminations of uninspired fallible mortals and the early 
legislators were so sensible of this want of authority, that 
instead of attempting to prove the reasonableness of their 
laws, they enforced them by passing them off as commu- 
nicated from heaven. 

The literary associations connected with Athens, and 
its Acropolis commanding the town and neighbourhood, 
covered with temples abounding with the choicest works 
of the painter and the statuary, must have kindled then 
far more than even now, when so small a specimen, and 
that an imperfect one, of its grandeur remains, an en- 
thusiastic admiration in all susceptible of the sublime 
and beautiful, in the arts of design, whose hearts can be 
reached by eloquence in prose or verse, or whose minds 
can comprehend the lofty speculations of philosophy. Yet 
from our Apostle, who had had a learned education, and 
whose writings show him to have been a man of genius and 
feeling, there falls not the tribute of a momentary invo- 
luntary admiration. In his career of unprecedented philan- 
thropy, Paul had no time to step aside from the grand 
work which occupied his soul, and exercised all his faculties. 
Philosophy had not led the Athenians, as we have seen, to 
the first principles of natural religion, nor properly in- 

" De Clemeiiti;i, ii. 6, 7. «" Nic. F^thics, iv. 11. 

» De Officiis, i. 7. 


structed them in the offices of private or social life. The 
emotion therefore produced in his breast by the sight was 
indignation of the sad perversion by this refined people 
of God's gifts of genius and reason, who, to use his own 
language to their conquerors, had, in professing themselves 
wise, become fools, by changing the glory of the incorruptible 
God into an image made (at the best) like to corruptible man^. 
His spirit was stirred within him, when he beheld this 
beautiful Athens, notwithstanding its boasted philosophy, 
wholly given to idolatry. So devoted indeed was it, that an 
ancient author^ sarcastically observed, it was easier to find 
there a god than a man, and it had more religious festivals 
than any other city of the Greeks. Paul however, as usual, 
proceeded with due caution. He began, according to his 
custom, with the Jews and proselytes, who acknowledged 
with him the true God, and looked forward in hope to the 
Messiah, whom he proclaimed as already come. Having 
thus made himself in a manner known, he frequented the 
places of public resort, where he was sure to be questioned; 
but a despised barbarian, and moreover a Jew, with per- 
sonal appearance little in his favour, was, notwithstanding 
all his prudent precaution, called, a picker up of seeds, 
(nrs§(js.oXoyoi, meaning, that he was a retailer of other 
men's opinions, instead of reasoning for himself; rendei'ed 
in our version, a babbler. Others, who seem not to 
have been mockers but enquirers, said, he seemeth to be 
a setter forth of foreign demons, for he proclaimed Jesus 
and the Resurrection. They apparently took them for two 
new objects of worship. He must therefore have spoken 
of his Master not only as the Man by wliom God would 
judge the world, but as partaking of his nature; and the 
Resurrection they must have mistaken for a female deity. 
Nor was this an extraordinary notion in heathens, who 
deified Hope, Jufitice, Concord, and other abstract qualities; 
J Romans i. 23. ^ IMnmius, Sat. 17. 


and these very Athenians had dedicated an altar to Pity. 
The only philosophers who are said to have encountered 
him were the Epicureans and Stoics ; nor is it easy to 
determine to which his doctrine would be least acceptable ; 
for while it forbad the criminal gratification of the senses, 
it mortified the proud moralist, by affirming human de- 
pravity, and ascribing salvation not to man's merit, but 
to God's free favour. To all indeed in every age, whose 
hearts have not been renewed, notwithstanding their baptism 
and Christian education, the Gospel is foolishness, and its 
preachers will be treated as babblers ; for the natural man 
cannot knoiv the things of the Spirit, because they are 
spiritually discerned^. 

Notwithstanding what moderns have said of the tolerant 
genius of Polytheism, for the purpose of indirectly wounding 
Christianity, all attempts of private persons to innovate 
in religion were resisted and punished. Thus one of the 
charges against Socrates in this very city was refusal to 
acknowledge the deities of the State; another, the intro- 
duction of new ones in words nearly the same as those 
in which these philosophers accused Paul. On this charge 
the Apostle was brought before the court, which was 
held in the open air on Areopagus, the hill of Mars, 
and had the general superintendence of morality and 
religion. Some distinguished commentators understand, 
that he was there, like Socrates, put upon his trial ; but 
we have neither accusation nor defence; and the narrative 
only conveys the idea, that Paul was called upon to explain 
his doctrine in the presence of those who were held to be 
the most competent judges. May we know what this new 
doctrine is ? was the commencement of the proceedings, and 
their conduct shows that they were not influenced by zeal 
for their own faith, or the desire of finding a better. 
Apparently they had in view no object more important 
than amusement, for all the citizens and the strangers 
» 1 Cor. ii. 14. 


zvho tvere there S2)ent their time on nothing else than to hear 
or tell some neio thing. Demosthenes complained of this weak- 
ness at the very crisis of their fate; and no doubt since Athens 
had little commerce, and had long dwindled into a provincial 
town, this love of novelty 'must have greatly increased. In 
this assembly, Paul, without any compromise of the truth, 
or any overpowering display of superior knowledge, en- 
deavoured to conciliate them, by commencing with a com- 
pliment on their piety ; and by taking advantage of their 
confessed ignorance, shielded himself from the law, which 
treated the introduction of any new object of veorship 
as a capital offence, and naturally introduced his subject. 
The remark, that among their altars there was one to an 
unknown God, has exercised the learning of scholars ; 
because they find, that profane authors, as Pausanias, who 
has given a minute description of the buildings of Athens, 
including pictures and statues, make mention of such an 
inscription once in the plural number ; and Grotius and 
others think, that Paul referred to one of these. But by 
making such a change, even were it allowable, he would 
have stultified his observation. I see no improbability 
in supposing, that he really read upon one this very 
text, as I may call it, of his discourse, though no heathen 
writer had occasion to name it. His speech divides into 
two parts: in the first, he exposes the folly of idolatry; 
in the second, he enters upon the fundamental articles 
of the Resurrection and the final Judgment. It is 
comprised in a few sentences, though it is full of the 
weightiest truths, happily familiar to the unlettered Chris- 
tians, but unknown to the sages of antiquity. In opposition 
to the philosophers as well as to the vulgar, he lays down 
the position, that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, 
and all things therein; he proceeds to afiirm his government 
of what he has created ; that they had not, as they boasted, 
sprung out of the earth indigenous, but that they and all 
mankind were descendants from one common ancestor, and 


that the time and place in which they lived had been 
determined by the will of their Creator. From these 
premises follows, that he is no local deity, confined within 
a temple ; self-sufficient, according to the acknowledgment 
of the Roman Epicurean Poet, requiring therefore nothing; 
and spiritual and invisible, and therefore not to be ade- 
quately represented by human art. He interposes the 
observation, that it is the duty of men to seek a know- 
ledge of him, which might be obtained in part from 
his works, and from his sustaining providence. In con- 
firmation of this, he cites an hemistich from two of their 
poets, his countrymen, Aratus, and the sublime hymn of 
Cleanthes. Yet, though it was God's will that they should 
seek him, they had not found him, and at their ignorance 
he had winked ; he had sent no inspired messenger (such as 
Plato seems to have expected) to reclaim them from 
worshipping his creatures, but he now called upon them 
as upon others to reform, because he had appointed a day 
of judgment after death ; and that all would appear at that 
tribunal, he had shown by the resurrection from the dead of 
that Man who was to be the Judge. 

*' Athenians," says this setter forth of the true God, 
" I observe that you are in all respects more addicted to 
religious worship than others ; for passing through your 
city, and inspecting your objects of devotion, I found 
among them even an altar on which was inscribed, To an 
unknown God, Him therefore whom ye ignorantly re- 
verence I announce to you, the God who made the world, 
and all things therein, he being Lord of heaven and earth, 
dvvelleth not in temples made with hands ; nor is he waited 
upon with sacrifices by human hands, as if he had need of 
any thing, he himself giving to all life and breath and all 
things. He has also made of one blood the whole human 
race, to dwell upon the face of the earth, (having fixed the 
foreordained seasons and bounds of their habitation,) in 


order that they might seek after him, the Lord, if haply 
they could grope after and find him, though already really 
not far from any one of us, for through him we live and 
move ourselves, and have our existence ; for as even some 
of your poets have said, For from him v^^e have our birth. 
We then, having our birth from him, ought not to conceive 
that the Deity is like to gold, silver, or marble, sculptured 
by art, according to man's conception. The periods of this 
ignorance God has overlooked, but now he commands all 
men every where to change their minds, because he has 
appointed a day on which he is about to judge the world 
righteously, by the j\Ian wliom he has determined, and he has 
afforded proof of this to all by raising Him from the dead." 
Here he was obliged to leave off, from the ridicule of some 
and the indifference of others, which shows that it could 
not have been a trial. We may presume, that if he had 
been able to fix their attention, he would have gone on to 
proclaim through the same Man remission of sins, sancti- 
fication, and eternal life. 

We learn from Cicero, that the immortality of the soul 
had been taught by Pherecydes and his disciple Pythagoras, 
not as a discovery, but as a tradition ; and that Plato was 
the first who reasoned in behalf of the doctrine. And this 
reasoning he did not find very satisfactory ; for he says 
in another place, AVhile I read his treatise, I am convinced, 
but when I lay it side, my conviction instantly ceases ; nor 
is this surprising, for the stress of the argument for the 
soul's existence after its departure out of the body is laid 
upon its existence before its entrance into it. Such an 
argument is prejudicial, for those whom it did not satisfy of 
its preexistence, denied its surviving its companion ; for it 
was a received axiom, that whatever had a beginning would 
have an end. Its advocates did not speak with confidence ; 
for the last words of Socrates to his judges were, We now 
depart to our respective destination, you to live, and I to 


die ; but which is best, no mortal can declare ! And Cicero 
confesses, that the doctrine, he knows not why, was despised 
by the majority : and even he himself, after enumerating 
several opinions, concludes with saying, that the gods must 
determine which is true. The doctrine, as treated by the 
philosophers, when received had no moral tendency, for 
they did not connect it with responsibility, regarding eternal 
life ; not as the reward of virtue, bestowed by a righteous 
Judge, but as a necessary consequence. Cicero would fortify 
the mind against the fear of death, by proving it to be no 
evil ; and he proposes this dilemma ; it will be extinguished, 
and then there will be no consciousness ; or it survives, (as 
he endeavours to prove,) and then it will be happy ; for the 
alternative of misery is rejected as an absurdity, because 
God cannot hurt, nor even be angry with any one. 

It was moreover happiness to which the mass of mankind 
must not aspire, it being the peculiar reward of sages, and 
the benefactors of mankind. Seneca found consolation in 
the hour of death in the thought, that he should soon 
be in the same state of insensibility as before his birth ; 
while his contemporary Paul could triumphantly exclaim, 
that to him to die was gain, and that to be with the Lord 
was hy far much better than life. Truly then may we 
repeat after him, that the Gospel has thrown light upon ^ 
immortal life, both by proving the fact by our Lord's 
resurrection, and by declaring that the wicked shall be 
punished with everlasting misery, and that the righteous, 
without respect to rank or talent, will go into eternal 
happiness. The immortality of the soul was believed by 
few of those whom Paul encountered on Mars' hill, but it 
could not have been regarded as a strange and absurd 
notion in a city, which had heard it from Plato and from 
Socrates. It was the doctrine of the resurrection of the 
body, which was believed by none, that exposed the 
^ Philipp-ans i. 23. 2 Tim. i. 10. 


teacher to ridicule. The soul was compared to a prisoner in 
the body, which cramped its intellectual energy, and debased 
its affections. Regarding death as its deliverer, and ex- 
pecting it to exist if it survived in a purer and astherial 
vehicle, the restoration of the body they considered im- 
possible and undesirable, and would not hear of its reunion 
with its former companion. 

Paul was at first treated with civility, and he was not 
afterwards persecuted ; but he appears to have been more 
unsuccessful than usual, for we do not read of a Church 
founded at Athens. A few, however, ordained to eternal 
life found his doctrine to be good news ; two are named, 
Damaris, a woman we may presume of influence, though 
this is the only record of her ; and Dionysius, a member of 
the court of Areopagus, who has obtained an unfounded 
celebrity as the reputed aiithor of the heavenly and 
ecclesiastical hierarchy, and other mistical writings, the 
sources of many superstitions respecting angels, formerly 
very popular, but which are quoted for the first time in the 
sixth century. He has been mistaken for a Bisliop of Paris 
of the same name, who suffered martyrdom by beheading, 
and is often represented with his head in his hand. 

Paul, finding no opening at Athens, proceeded to Corinth, 
which as the residence of the Proconsul was the political 
metropolis of Greece.- Its favourable position on the 
isthmus, which both made it the key of the Peloponnesus, 
and gave it ports on the east and west, raised it to com- 
mercial importance from the earliest times ; so that the 
epithets of wealthy, apsios, and opulent, wAoucrioj, are appro- 
priated to it by Pindar and Homer. The original city had 
been totally destroyed by its Roman conqueror Memmius, 
and it lay desolate till colonised by Julius Cassar in the 
same year with Carthage. Though like the rest of Greece 
reduced to political insignificance, it was still commercial 
and rich, though not to be compared with its former self, 


and continued to enjoy its less creditable reputation of 
a city devoted to dissipation. 

The idolatry of the East was accompanied with " wanton 
rites," and lustful orgies, and philosophy had not attempted 
to banish them from Grecian temples. Their mysteries, 
which have been vaunted as schools of wisdom and virtue, 
in which the gross notions of the popular religion were said 
to be corrected and refined, consisted chiefly, if we may 
trust the Christian Fathers, in whose times their meaning 
seems to have transpired, of exhibitions which would not bear 
the light. Aristotle blames all lewd pictures, except those 
of the gods, which religion had sanctioned; and Cato was 
ashamed to be present at some of the religious ceremonies 
which took place in public. Several of their writers, as 
Terence and Lucian, bear witness to the immoral tendency 
of their legends, in which the gods, differing from men only 
in power, exert it for the gi'atification of their passions. 
If such was more or less the character of all the fabled 
inhabitants of Olympus, to whom their king and father 
set the example, what could be expected from Bacchus 
and Venus, the personifications as it were of debauchery 
and lust over which they presided, and which were there- 
fore consistently introduced into their worship, as an 
acceptable homage. Plato said, that intoxication was allow- 
able only on the festivals of the Giver of wine ; and it was a 
proverbial saying, that a chaste woman would not be 
corrupted at the Bacchanalia. Corinth had been celebrated 
for dissolute manners, and they must have been kept up in 
the Roman colony; for Venus, who presided over the 
Acropolis on the high mountain above it, was served by a 
thousand courtezans % who had been dedicated to her by her 
votaries, and exercised their profession in the name of religion. 
The inhabitants of such a city were no doubt similar to 
other Gentiles, who wondered that the followers of Jesus 
*^ Strabo, viii. 


did not rim to the same excess of riot as themselves, and 
against whose concupiscence Paul'^ warned the Thessalonians; 
while Peter^ descrihes them as walking in lasciviousness, 
lusts, excess of wine, and abominable idolatries. Corinth 
seemed to be as unpromising a station for a Missionary 
as Athens ; for if philosophy fosters a pride of under- 
standing, which revolts at the humiliating doctrines of the 
Cross, sensuality indisposes the heart to submit to the 
self-denying morality of the Gospel. In Corinth, however, 
it ]Di'oved mighty to the casting down of the strongholds of 
sin, and bringing the tlioughts of some at least of these 
sinners into captivity to the obedience of Christ. In vain 
would a heathen sage have dilated to such an audience 
with excellency of speech, and in the enticing ivords of 
mans ivisdom, on the intrinsic beauty of virtue. It is only 
the Divine power that forgives sin, that can cleanse from all 
unrighteousness. It was not reserved for an Epictetus, or 
a Seneca, or even an Antoninus, who could recommend his 
precepts by imperial favour, but for Paul, to be the 
Regenerator of Greeks and Romans. Through his instru- 
mentality, in the demonstration of spirit and of power, 
Christ crucified, though to the Jews a stumbling-block and 
to the Greeks foolishness, became to many of the dissolute, 
as well as of the j^roud of intellect, the piower of God and 
the wisdom of God. He came to them in weakness and in 
fear and in trembling, but he was much comforted by his 
Master's assurance, that among the dissolute Corinthians he 
had much 2)eo])le, whom he was to bring into the Church. 
How great must have been the profligacy of Corinth, when, 
afterwards writing to his converts, he tells them that they 
must needs go out of the tvorld, if they were altogether to 
abstain from associating with their heathen neighbours, who 
were fornicators, adulterers, drunkards, covetous, or extor- 
tioners. He adds the solemn warning, Be not deceived; 
'' 1 Tht'ss. iv. 3, .0. ^ 1 Tettr iv. j. 


neither fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, nor persons guilty 
of unnatural abominations, (but venial faults at best in the 
estimation of their philosophy,) shall inherit the kingdom 
of God^. But such is the transforming efficacy of the love 
of his dear Son shed abroad in the heart, that he could add, 
and such were some of you; hut ye are washed, hut ye 
are sanctified, hut ye are justified in the name of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and hy the Spirit of our God^. At Corinth, 
Paul reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath day, and he 
had the comfort of a Christian home with Aquila, a Jew of 
Pontus, and his wife Priscilla, with whom he worked at 
tent making for a maintenance, and had them for helpers 
in Christ Jesus ; for they had been obliged to leave 
Italy on account of the imperial edict, which banished the 
Jews for their profession of Christianity, which was con- 
founded by the Romans at that early period uith Judaism^. 
He had also soon the satisfaction of receiving his friends, 
Silas and Timothy. The latter had come to him at 
Athens, but anxiety to hear of the state of the Thessa- 
lonian Christians, induced him to send him back again, 
as he had been himself suddenly torn from them, before 
he could set their Church in order. Timothy now rejoined 
him with a most satisfactory report ; and during his un- 
avoidable absence, he addressed to them two letters, which 
having been preserved, still edify believers in this distant age. 
As these are judged by many critics to be the earliest he wrote, 
and I accede to their opinion, I must here insert a summary 
of their contents, and will introduce them with some remarks 
on the Epistles, more especially on those of this Apostle. 

' 1 Cor. V. 9, 10. s 1 Cor. vi. 9, JO, 11. 

1' Suetonius is our authority for this fact, wliich he states in these ex- 
traordinary terms. *' He expelled from Rome the Jews, who were con- 
tinually exciting tumults at the instigation of Chrestos." We know from 
Tertullian (Ap. iii.) and Lactantius, that tliis is not the misspelling of a 
transcriber, hut was a common error of the pagans, who confounded Chrisivs, 
the anointed one, with the more common Creek word Chrestos, nviinhle. 


A THOUGHTFUL reader cannot fail to be struck with the 
want of method in divine teaching, as compared with human 
systems of Ethics, and to recognise in this fact a resemblance 
between the works and the word of the Author of both. 
Still, this comparison must not be pressed too far; for we 
must not forget, that both the Old and the New Testament 
were not revelations to the ignorant heathen, but to those 
who were already the people of God. Thus it would 
have been superfluous to announce His Unity to those 
who had heard this great truth declared by his own 
voice from Mount Sinai ; or his Providence to those whom 
he had led for forty years in the wilderness with an out- 
stretched arm, and with signs and miracles, and fed with 
bread from heaven. We may also be sure, that the Gala- 
tians were not the only primitive Christians, before whose 
eyes Jesus Christ had been manifestly set forth as crucified, 
but that all to whom the Epistles were addressed, had been 
orally instructed in the blessed results of his propitiatory 
death, resurrection, ascension, and his intercessory life at 
his Father's right hand for his people. The Epistles only 
reminded them of the precious truths which sustained their 
spiritual life, and all, we may be sure, were, according to 
their capacity, fed with milk or with strong meat. Some 
commentators suppose, that the form of sound words which 
Paul enjoins Timothy" to hold fast, was a summary of 
leading doctrines arranged by the Apostle ; but this is no 
more than an ingenious conjecture. If there had been 
such a document, it would scarcely have been lost; and it 
» 1 Tim. i. 13. 


seems more likely, that such a wise master builder as Paul 
would vary such a statement, according to the state of each 
particular Church. 

The diversified v/isdom of God, 7roXu7ro<xiA>j croplu, delivered 
the Bible not at once as a whole, but in different portions, 
and at different seasons, according to the wants of respective 
ages. It was also revealed under a variety of forms. Some- 
times it instructs us by precepts, more often by a plain narra- 
tive of facts, which are left to speak for themselves, and may 
help us in following out the former. Again, it exalts the 
mind by the loftiest imagery, and opens to us the unseen 
future. Its leading truths are exhibited in every style, and 
from the harmony in their statement by several authors, some 
of different periods, and all having a peculiarity of manner, 
an additional evidence is afforded in proof of the Bible being 
what it professes to be, God's word. This variety also, by 
recommending it to persons of different intellect and taste, 
insures to it a more frequent perusal. 

The Epistles form the largest portion of the New Testa- 
ment, and are written by five of the Apostles ; but of these, 
the far greater number we owe to St. Paul, and his have 
much more than the rest the characteristics of familiar 
letters. The Epistolary form of composition admits the 
reader, as it were, into the confidence of the writer. The 
insight into his character which is thus acquired, makes the 
letters of any eminent person attractive, though they may 
have no other recommendation. The interest of course 
increases with the importance of the contents, and no 
subject can be compared in this respect with the truths of 
religion, in which each individual has the deepest concern. 
These Epistles supply us of these latter days with a sort of 
substitute for the acquaintance of the Apostles, which was 
enjoyed by contemporary believers. They were not merely 
inspired to reveal doctrines and to enforce precepts, but 
had been renewed in the spirit of their minds, and 


become living proofs of the influence of Christianity. Thus 
Paul's holy ardour and devoted self-denial, Peter's cou- 
rageous zeal, and John's tender affection, furnish us with 
powerful evidence of its truth. To secure this evidence 
for ever, it vv^as necessary that a description of their own 
feelings should be preserved, and that we might learn from 
the tone of their thoughts and expressions the nature of the 
effects produced on them by the grace of God. Orations 
would afford little opportunity for the introduction of their 
personal feelings, formal treeitises none. But in letters 
which partake of a public and a private character, being 
addressed to communities, the members of which were gene- 
rally known to the writer, and affectionately remembered by 
him, it is impossible to prevent his mind from blending 
with his matter, and thus being seen and read by all men^ 
And this applies peculiarly to St. Paul ; for through his 
letters we seem to be admitted into his confidence, and to 
know him, not as an historical character, but as a con- 
temporary. We thus are in a degree enabled, like those 
whom he addressed, to act upon his advice, of being imitators 
of his example, an example which he, and few beside him, 
could hold forth without presumption and without danger; 
for he could add, even as I am an imitator of Christ^. 
Our Lord is indeed our only faultless model, and this is a 
great though a subordinate advantage which we derive from 
his incarnation. Still his peculiar office places some of his 
actions beyond the sphere of our imitation, and there are 
others on which his conduct throws no light in which he 
may be guided by St. Paul's example. Thus as several of 
them were written under great trials, and some even when 
in danger of life, we see his principles put to the test. 
And what additional strength do exhortations to patience, 

>i Visitation Sermon by the late Rev. T. Byrth, of Magdalen Hall, 
before the Bishop of Chester. 
'- 1 Cor. xi. 1. 


and even to joy in tribulation, receive, when we know that 
they are not the advice of one at ease, but were written 
from a prison, and when he was deserted by his friends. 
Rejoice evermore'^, he writes to the Thessalonians, when 
driven from them by persecution, and not long after his 
being shamefully treated at Philippi. Again, this zealous 
Apostle calls upon the Philippians to rejoice * in the Lord, 
and declares that he does and will rejoice"-, though in 
bonds, because his imprisonment had fallen out to the 
furtherance of the Gospel; and he cares not for his own 
bonds, provided the tvord of God he not bound^. His 
exhortations to diligence derive weight from his example, 
who though busied in teaching, as at Thessalonica and 
Ephesus, in private as well as in public, still redeemed 
time to work for the maintenance of himself and his com- 
panions, that he might not be chargeable to any ; showing 
to the disciples, how labouring they might support the 
weak, and though proving that the preacher of spiritual 
blessings was entitled to partake in return of their tem- 
poral things, refraining from this right, that he might 
not thus check the progress of the Gospel. When we take 
into our hands his letters, we are struck with the air of 
reality which pervades them ; and the proof of their genuine- 
ness, which arises from this perception, is not to be deemed 
imaginary, because it is incapable of being drawn out into 
words, or to be communicated except by sending the reader 
to the letters themselves. Many of the illustrations which 
he employs are traceable to the circumstances of his life 
and times. Thus he frequently describes the life of a Chris- 
tian as a race, a wrestling s, a boxing ; the future reward he 
designates as the victor's wreath ; and he exhorts to self- 
denial, in terms borrowed from the practice of those who 

c 1 Thess. V. 16. ^ PhUip. iii. 1. iv. 4. 

e Philip, i. 12. 18. f 2Tim. ii. y. 

s 1 Cor. ix. 21—27. 


Strive for mastery at the Isthmian or Olympic games. 
As a Roman citizen, he illustrates our spiritual redemption 
from the phrases of the imperial law, and military images of 
course occur to a tent maker. Brought up in Judaism, in 
which he tells vis** that he had made great proficiency, he 
makes frequent use of the approved mode of explaining 
Scripture, by discovering under tlie obvious meaning a 
spiritual sense, which in the rabbinical commentaries we 
have reason to regard as fanciful accommodation, but which, 
as the deductions of an inspired expositor, must be accepted 
as the genuine interpretation. Thus we accept on his 
authority the allegorizing of the history of Sarah and Hagar, 
but his application of the nineteenth Psalm to the Ministers 
of the Gospel, and Moses's declaration concerning the Law 
transferred to justification, can hardly be taken for the 
primary meaning of these passages. His epistles show the 
very state of mind that must have been generated by the 
peculiar condition of the first propagators of Christianity, 
and are precisely such as might have been expected from a 
man of a vehement mind, brought up in the school of Jewish 
literature, converted by an overwhelming miracle, directed 
to preach to the Gentiles', and had every where met 
with the prejudices and persecuting spirit of his own 

The authenticity of each portion of Scripture has been 
most satisfactorily established ; but that of the Epistles, from 
their nature, strikes us at first sight as being not formal 
statements of doctrine, but earnest communications to 
friends. Some are expressly ordered to be read to the 
whole congregation, and all necessarily imply the previous 
conversion of the Churches, or individuals addressed. 
Who then in Paul's lifetime could have forged an Epistle 
in his name, without the certainty of detection ? Take as 
an example that to the Romans, whom he had never visited. 
'■ (lal. i. 14. ' Channing on the F.vidcnces. 


The salutations show that he had already friends there, 
and that they must have kept up a frequent intercourse with 
other Churches, especially that of Corinth, from which 
he wrote. A forged Epistle therefore in his name would 
have been soon detected, and no impostor could have sent 
it by a deaconess, unless she too had been an impostor. 
We can still less easily conceive such a deception practised 
on a Church, where he was personally known ; and he 
guarded against the possibility, by writing some part 
himself, however small, though he generally employed an 
amanuensis. The very structure of some of these Epistles 
renders a forgery impracticable ; for no impostor could 
invent vsrritings which abound in allusions to persons and 
controverted doctrines, answer questions, and remind of 
previous instructions. Epistles above any other works 
exhibit the writer's feelings, and the genuineness of one is a 
guarantee for that of all, for all have the same character- 
istics. But his Epistles are more than genuine, they are 
authoritative. The fulfilled prophecies which they contain 
prove them dictated under the direction of Him who sees all 
things from the beginning, and the author speaks of him- 
self as delivering the will of God. In Paul's directions to 
the Corinthians respecting marriage, there is a variation in his 
language. I have not a commandment from the Lord, hut 
give my judgment as one to whom the Lord has shown 
mercy^ : and again. According to my judgment, and I think 
I have the Sj)irit of God. Such phrases are thought by 
many commentators not meant to lower his authority; but 
assuming, as they seem to do, that in such advice he claims 
no higher authority than that of a faithful minister, surely 
this very limitation implies the inspiration of all the rest. 
And this he occasionally positively claims, we speak the things 
of God, in the toords which the Holy Ghost teacheth; and, we 
have the mind, of Christ^. In writing to them concerning 
'^ 1 Cor. vii. 25, 10. 1 1 Cor. ii. 13, 16. 

L 2 


the Lord's Supper n\ and Christ's Resurrection", he declares 
that he derives his knowledge immediately from the Lord ; 
and he assures the Thessalouians", that God has given us 
the Holy Spirit. It is to be noticed also, that St. Peter 
ranks Paul's Epistles with the Scriptures p. 

Nevertheless, it is a popular notion, which those who 
maintain it can hardly have examined, that the Gospels 
have a higher authority than the Epistles, because they 
contain our Saviour's teaching ; as if the words of his 
inspired servants, ascending from the same source, liad not 
the same authority. They are indeed confuted out of their 
Master's mouth. / have yet many things to say unto you, 
hut ye cannot hear them now : howheit, when the Spirit of 
truth is come, he loill guide you into all the truths. If this 
distinction were possible, how could the Church be said 
to he huilt upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets'" ; 
and where could we find the whole counsel of God laid 
open, except in the writings of those who were commissioned 
by the Son, even as he had been by the Father ? We 
maintain accordingly, that whatever concerning doctrine and 
discipline is delivered in the Epistles, is as binding as what 
was taught by Christ himself, and is recorded in the Gospels. 
And this position is essential, because doctrines only inti- 
mated in the earlier revelation, are developed in the later, 
and their practical tendency is established by reasoning. 
The abolition of the Mosaic law, and the incorporation of 
Jew and Gentile into one Church, may be inferred from 
parables and certain dark sayings in the Gospels ; but the 
latter was a secret clearly revealed to the Apostles, and 
neither could have been borne even by themselves, if it had 
been announced to them by their Master. Their persuasion, 
in common with all their countrymen, that the Messiah 
would appear as a triumphant sovereign, made them over- 

." 1 Cor. xi. 23. " 1 Cor. xv. .3 "1 Thess. iv. 8. 

I' 2 Pot. iii. 15. 1 St. John xvi. 13. ' Kphes. ii. 20. 


look the predictions of his sufFerings and death, and the 
veil was only removed from their miderstandings by the 
promised illumination of the Holy Spirit. It is only in 
the Epistles, that the propitiatory nature of that death 
is disclosed as the foundation of the Christian's hope ; and 
we learn from St. Paul why we should glory only in the 
cross of Christ. It is from his condescension in consenting 
to die for us, that the Apostle deduces the constraining 
motives to live to him, and his right to our services as 
purchased by his bloods Hence our obligations to crucify 
the Jlesh with its affections and lusts\ to be patient under 
afflictions, and even rejoicing in tribulation", and to deadness 
to the world, and attachment to heavenly objects ==. Some 
duties too are first inculcated in the Epistles, as giving 
God thanks in Christ's name. Our obligations to rulers, 
only suggested by him in the saying, Mender unto Ccesar 
the things which are Ccesars, are enlarged upon in the 
Epistles to the Romans y, and to Titus, and in the first Epistle 
of Peter. The relative duties of husbands and wives, parents 
and children, and masters and' servants, scarcely touched on 
in the Gospels, are fully laid down in the Epistles^. And 
surely these remarks ought to convince us, that the latter 
were not written to meet the particular requirements of 
primitive believers, without a reference, intended by their 
inspiring heavenly Monitor, to the circumstances of all 
future Christians to the end of time. Paul's general plan 
is to begin with confuting error and affirming truth, which 
he follows up by enforcing the observance of duties, espe- 
cially such as arise out of the topics before him. Thus 
he suits his method to human nature, and shows that the 

8 2 Cor. V. 15. Gal. ii. 20. Tit. iii. 1. 
t Gal. V. 24; vi. 14. Rora. vi. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 1, 2. 
u Pliil. iii. 10. 2 Tim. ii. 11. 1 Pet. ii. 19; iv. 13. 
>^ Col. iii. 1.2. y Rom. xiii. 1—7. 

"■ Ephes. ii. 22—33. iii. 1—9. Cdlos*. iii. 18—22. 


Christian scheme, which makes faith the basis of morality, 
is the only philosophical one, since the merit of conduct 
depends altogether upon its motives. 

His diction has given rise to much diversity of opinion. 
He himself in addressing the Corinthians disclaims the 
enticiiig^ words of mans wisdom, and allows that his op- 
ponents represented his bodily presence as weak, and his 
speech as co7iteniptihle^. His words have been pressed from 
his own times to ours beyond his meaning ; for it is now the 
general opinion, that he alludes chiefly to stammering, or 
some other defect in his elocution; and he adds, that they 
allow his letters to be weighty and powerful ; and certainly, 
if we regard the eloquence of ideas, and the happy arrange- 
ment of these rather than the words in which they are 
clothed, an eloquence which has the advantage of being 
transferable with little if any injury to other tongues, we 
need not go beyond these Epistles for specimens of the 
elegant, the pathetic, and the sublime, with which no un- 
inspired compositions can compare. They abound in weighty 
sentences, arranged with a care to their effect; as witness his 
discussion of the Resurrection ; his praise of Christian 
charity, to which tongue of man before or since has never 
done such justice; his contrast of a believer's strength and 
weakness, and his foolish confidence of boasting, as he is 
pleased to designate his noble vindication of himself. It is 
the fashion of modern writers to lower him as an author, it 
may be to magnify the power of the Spirit in making him, 
notwithstanding his imperfections and defect, so able a 
minister of the neio covenant. None, however, have gone 
to so objectionable a length as Cardinal Bembo, who, to 
mark his contempt of these Epistles as composition, calls 
them, by an Italian augmentative of ridicule, Episto- 
laccia, and conjures a friend not to read them, lest they 
should injure his style. South" reproves him for being as 

■' 1 Cor. ii 4. ''2 Cor. x. 10. " South's Sermon, v. 


much a blockhead as an atheist, and to have as small a gust 
of the elegancies of expression as of the soundness of the 
matter. Those indeed who have any acquaintance with the 
life of this dissolute associate of the dissolute Pope Leo X, 
will suspect that it is the latter that leads him to condemn 
the former, from his enmity to their holy tendency, so 
alien to his own character and practice ; nor shall we 
now think much respect due to the literary taste of one, 
whose only object seems to have been to attain to a 
Ciceronian Latinity, and who was so much more attentive 
to style than meaning, as to speak of the Pope in lan- 
guage which could only suit the Pagan Pontiff. Of the 
Fathers, Jerome is the most severe in his censure of Paul's 
style, yet he is inconsistent; for at times he condemns 
him for the turnings in his phrases, leaving his period 
and* sense unfinished, from inability to express his con- 
ceptions in a way becoming the majesty of his meaning, so 
that his syntax is scarcely tolerable. At others, he says, 
he only spoke of his rudeness of speech ironically, and 
describes him as a great master of composition, who could 
use the most prudent artifices, employing simple words 
which seemed to convey nothing but plainness, but which 
nevertheless breathe force and thunder. He is apparently 
entangled in his cause, but catches all that come near 
him, and turns his back as if intending to fly, when it is 
only that he may overcome. This inconsistency is the 
more surprising, since Jerome's knowledge of the Hebrew 
as well as of the Septuagint, a qualification so rare among 
the Fathers, ought to have disposed him, as Simon ob- 
serves, to show the Hebraisms of his style, instead of 
accusing him of solecisms. Origen and Chrysostom are 
better judges of Greek ; yet they also greatly vary ; for 
while in one passage the latter'' reproves a person for 
preferring his eloquence to that of Plato, and pronounces 
"1 De Sacerdotio, iv. 7. 


him illiterate in the highest degree ; in another he declares, 
that he had no occasion for superfluous ornaments, and 
the jingling and sophistry of profane eloquence, since 
lie could vindicate the truth with resistless vehemence. 
" Whence, I pray, did he confound the Jews of Damascus, 
when he had not yet begun to work miracles ? How 
did he baffle the Greeks, and why was he sent to 
Tarsus ? Was it not that he mightily prevailed by elo- 
quence; and pressed them so close, that when they could 
not bear the disgrace of being conquered, they were pro- 
voked to murder him ? Against those who began to set up 
Judaism in Antioch, by what means did he contend ? Did 
the famous Areopagite of the most superstitious Athens 
adhere to him upon any motive than that of his preaching ? 
When therefore it appears, that before and while he worked 
miracles he used much eloquence, how then will men dare 
to call him rude, who was admired for his disputing ? For 
what reason did the Lycaonians suppose him to be Mercury, 
(for that Barnabas and he were esteemed to be gods, was to 
be ascribed to their miracles,) but upon account of his 
eloquence ? Whence had this blessed man the advantage 
of all the Apostles ; whence is it that he is admired 
above all, not only by us, but by Jews and Gentiles ? 
Is it not from the excellence of his admirable Epistles ?" 
Chrysostom, in his commentaries, continually admires 
his happy selection of the most expressive words, his 
vivacity and pathos, the suitableness of his expressions 
to persons and things, his resistless power of persuasion, 
his just consequences, and the closeness of his reasonings. 
Tarsus, where he was educated, was a school of elo- 
quence, which had its characteristic features as well as the 
Attic and the Asiatic. It is said to have been suitable 
to unpremeditated harangues, and that this style Paul 
transferred from Orations to his writings, and hence his bold 
metaphors and rapid transitions. The few passages from 


the Poets in his Epistles, are such as might have been 
picked up in conversations, and seem to me of themselves to 
prove nothing ; but we can hardly imagine, that though of 
Jewish birth, he had altogether neglected the most celebrated 
heathen writings; though his style was naturally formed 
on that of the Septuagint, with which as an Hellenist 
he must have been familiar from childhood, it must be 
allowed that he greatly improved upon it; and his language 
seems to me to have as much right to be regarded as a 
distinct dialect, as the ancient ones, or that of Macedonia 
then in ordinary use. Justly does Hemsterhusius ^ seem to 
me to settle the dispute, when he distinguishes the thoughts 
that breathe from the words in which they are communicated, 
saying, " that we should distinguish in every discourse with 
the utmost care the diction and form of style, and the 
order of the things of which they treat, one of which 
depends on the prudence and disposition of the writer, the 
other belongs to grammar and an anxious imitation of 
ancient examples. If I look to his words alone, and the 
junction of his phrases and discourse, I cannot deny that he 
has departed far from the correct eloquence of the Greek, 
and is such an one as cannot be called pure and polished ; 
and those who will compare in this respect Paul with Plato, 
never will prevail upon any who are acquainted with the 
classical language to subscribe to so unreasonable an 
opinion ; for what is more manifest, or attested by more 
witnesses, than that the Apostle followed as he ought the 
form of Greek introduced by the Hellenist Jews ? Suppose 
him the most skilful master not only of Grecian but of Attic 
graces, still he would justly have preferred the former idiom, 
since he had to address Jews, and Christianity had necessarily 
the closest connection with the Septuagint version. But if 
we leave style, which is but the shell of this health-bearing 
nut, and attend to the context of the Pauline discourses, 
'- Oratio tie Paulo Apostolo. 


it must be confessed that nothing can be more sublime and 
exciting than his thoughts, and the sinews of his arguments. 
This eloquence then, which consists not in the flowers of 
words, but in the weight of things most solemnly pronounced, 
if it can be justly assigned to any, must be preeminently to 
Paul, since his great power of mind, and divine faculty of 
thinking, expresses in his writings the image of his mind. 
Hence in his Epistles no figures of the orators are wanting, not 
indeed those that are drawn from the coffers of rhetoricians; 
for such a laborious ambition of a cultivated composition, re- 
duced to a rhythmical arrangement, was far from him ; but 
inflamed with a heavenly ardour, he brings forth spontaneously 
these lights. And he so formed himself by a certain admirable 
temperament, that he was most ready for all kinds of speech ; 
for who is so hard, and as it were cased in iron, who can 
refuse him beseeching, not listen to him exhorting, not 
share in his indignation, not obey at his command ! In 
a word, I hesitate not to say, that never was Demosthenes 
more eloquent in his abundance of Attic eloquence, than 
Paul in his humble and vulgar diction, that genuine 
thunderbolt of the Christian faith." " When," says Beza, 
" I more nearly view his language, I find no grandeur of 
speech in Plato himself like unto him ; as often as he pleases 
to thunder out the mysteries of God, no vehemence in 
Demosthenes is equal to his, when he proposes to terrify 
with the fear of divine judgment, to warn to the con- 
templation of God's goodness, or to exhort to piety and 
charity." If we were to compare him to any of the ancients, 
it should be to Demosthenes, whose resistless eloquence (to use 
Milton's language) fulmined over Greece; but his object 
was only the temporal liberty of his country : the Apostle, 
whose citizenship is in heaven, endeavours by the terrors 
of the Law or the persuasion of the Gospel, to bring his 
hearers to the general assembly and Church of the first- 
born. Indeed, it is impossible thtit one who felt so ardently, 


could fail to be a consummate orator in the cause to which 
he devoted himself; and we may be confident, that if 
Longinus had been well acquainted with his writings, he 
would often have cited from them examples of the pathetic 
and sublime. His oratorical merits are now generally 
allowed, but he is treated too much by Paley and others 
as a careless and hasty writer. They speak of his unpre- 
meditated style as they would of an ordinary writer, 
forgetting, as it would seem, that he spake as he was moved 
by the Holy Ghost. " Thus," writes Dr. Powell ^ "little soli- 
citous about method, he is often drawn from his design by 
the accidental use of a word, and neither when he quits his 
purpose nor when he returns to it again, does he employ the 
usual forms of transition." I am, however, persuaded, that 
Paul was no hasty writer. He appears while at his work 
to have dictated them to an amanuensis ; he must have 
been conscious that he was writing not only to his own 
converts, but through them to all future ages ; and I am 
persuaded, that by the Spirit who always at least super- 
intended his compositions, and kept him from any erroneous 
statement, or any really inconsequential reasoning, though 
he has been charged with such by persons calling themselves 
Christians, in whom it would be more becoming to distrust 
their own judgment, than to blame a digression as out 
of place, and an interruption of the argument as a defect. 
The Gospels can only convey the translation of our Lord's 
discourses, but those who understand Greek can read the 
very words of Paul and the other Apostles. Much there- 
fore may be said in support of their plenary inspiration, 
and they are at times chosen with such felicity, and so 
skilfully combined, that they apjjear to me to be in many 
instances, as he told the Corinthians, the ivords which the 
Holy Ghost teacheth. The more his Epistles are studied, 

f Introduction to St. Paul's Epistlea. 


the more I am persuaded they will be found to be elaborate 
compositions. Bishop Jebb ^ has shown, that the system of 
verbal parallelism, which we know to be the characteristic 
of Hebrew poetry, also pervades the New Testament ; 
and Mr. Boys'' extends the remark to a parallelism of 
subjects, and exliibits a most artificial arrangement of some 
of his Epistles. They are not numerous, nor generally 
speaking long, and were, I conceive, the result of much 
meditation. I would mention, in contradiction to the 
notion that his works were unpremeditated hasty effusions, 
that the Epistle to the Colossians is a careful abridgment 
of that to the Ephesians, though it has also matter peculiar 
to itself. And that the exordium of the latter, w^hich is to 
an inattentive observer obscure, will on examination be found 
by the repetition of the remark, that God's design redounded 
to the praise of his glory to be broken into three divisions. 
It is true that he sometimes starts off, as it seems, abruptly 
from his subject to pursue a new idea, but his digressions 
never cause him to lose sight of his mark; and from his 
most discursive flights, he brings homo strength to the truth 
with which he began ; and when longest on the wing, comes 
back to his subject with redoubled vigour. He knew how 
to address the hopes and fears of men, as well as to con- 
vince their reason and engage their affections ; and shows 
peculiar delicacy in stating unwelcome truths, and in 
soliciting as a favour what he might claim as his due. 

Some who do not lower the authority of the Epistles, 
still neglect them, as designed chiefly for a temporary 
purpose, and as hard to understand. The two objections 
nearly coincide, for their reference to local disputes is the 
principal cause of their obscurity. We must not however 
take up the notion, that the controversies they settle are 
obsolete, and do not, in spirit at least, concern us. Societies, 
and the individuals of which tlicy are the aggregate, are, in 
M lu his Sacred Literature. " Tactica Sacra. Loudon, 1824. 


fact, at all times substantially alike ; and while the points at 
issue are different, the feelings they excite, and the practical 
inferences to he drawn from them, are the same. Thus the 
spirit of St. Paul's decision respecting meats and drinks, 
and of the ceremonial law, is still applicable to cases of 
liberty of conscience; and the rule of abstaining from things 
in themselves innocent, if our use of them should tempt 
a weak brother to sin, is, as long as there are weak brethren, 
obligatory. But several of the errors which then distracted 
the Church continue to prevail, and are even countenanced 
by whole connnunities, which, notwithstanding, profess to 
submit to the authority of Scripture, Did the Gnostics 
forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats; the 
Apostle in condemning them censures the Church of 
Rome. Did any then maintain the Son's inferiority to the 
Father ; the many passages which affirm or imply his 
equality, are our present preservatives against Arianism 
and Socinianism. And the same storehouse provides the 
texts which vindicate the fundamental doctrine of our 
Saviour's expiatory sacrifice of himself, and the necessity 
of a divine influence to enable any man to fulfil his duty. 

The topics are the uniformity of the doctrine of redemp- 
tion under the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispens- 
ations ; the ruin of man in Adam, and his recovery in 
Christ ; the imperfection and abrogation of the Sinai cove- 
nant ; justification through faith, and sanctification by the 
Holy Spirit, with the resistance of indwelling sin; the 
resurrection, and the sacerdotal and royal offices of our 
Priest and King. 

These Epistles, independent of the knowledge which they 
convey, are inestimable from their practical tendency. They 
kindle our gratitude, they stimulate our obedience, and 
exhibit in the most attractive colours the beauty of 
holiness. Faith and works, justification by free grace, 
and sanctification by the Spirit, are so indissolubly united 


in the mind of the writers, that the one always suggests 
the other ; and while they unequivocally state that no 
works merit salvation, they afford the best antidote to 
Antinomianism of every description. They constantly 
affirm, that without faith it is impossible to please God, 
and that the faith which pleases will ever produce holiness 
and good works. 

"We learn from Paul himself, that there were believers in 
his day who said. Let us sin, that grace may abound; and 
Antinomians of later ages have sheltered themselves under 
the authority of his name ; and yet his main excellence is in 
his application of the doctrines of grace to the inculcation of 
holiness. Christ crucified he lays as the foundation of his 
system ; but he shows, that the faith that justifies necessarily 
produces sanctification, and is so far from subverting the 
moral law, that while he disclaims its entitling us to reward, 
he proves that it ought to regulate our practice. He has 
long paragraphs of exhortations to particular duties, and 
seldom enforces tenets, without deducing from them duties. 
He severely animadverts upon those who convert Christian 
liberty into licentiousness, and shows that the new covenant 
is more efficacious than the old in promoting righteousness, 
by suggesting more powerful motives. The Law deters from 
sin, by threats of punishment: the Gospel wins to obedience, 
by the constraining persuasion of Christ dying for us. 

We grant, indeed, that it is more difficult to understand 
the Epistles than the Gospels, though it is a difficulty 
much overrated by those who are unwilling to read them 
themselves, and who discourage their perusal by others. 
This arises out of the nature of that kind of composition. 
In a letter, things are altogether omitted, or only alluded 
to, because familiar to the persons addressed, which 
the reader in a distant age can only gather from a careful 
examination, and a comparison with other contemporary 
writings. There is also an obscurity arising out of 


the subjects which our understanding cannot fathom. 
This St. Peter confesses in the Pauline Epistles ; but we 
are not therefore in despair to close them according to the 
advice of the Church of Rome, and of inconsistent Pro- 
testants ; inconsistent, I say, for the sufficiency of Scripture 
as a guide, and the right of private judgment to interpret 
it, are the justification of our separation from that corrupt 
communion. Difficulties should not deter us, but, on the 
contrary, stimulate us to dig into this mine of heavenly 
treasure. With prayer for a blessing on your endeavours, 
bring the whole strength of your own faculties, with what- 
ever aid you can draw from the labours of others, to bear 
upon this study, and you will find difficulties disappear, and 
your exertions will be abundantly recompensed. St. Paul 
intended an indiscriminate perusal of his Epistles by all 
believers, as is evident from his addressing them not to the 
Pastors exclusively. Thus he charges hy the Lord, that 
his first .Ejrisile to the Thessalonians (thought by many to 
be the earliest) shoidd be read out to all the holy brethren'^. 
The second to the Corinthians is addressed to tlie Church of 
God in their city, with all the saints in all Achaia ; and the 
first, in terms still more comprehensive, to all who in every 
place call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Even the Epistle 
to the Romans, which treats of the deep things of God, 
which have ever divided the Church, is addressed to all 
that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saitdsK The 
practice of the Church from the beginning, of reading out 
the Epistles without a commentary, confirms my position. 
Still we must be mindful of St. Peter's caution'', not to 
wrest them or the other Scriptures to our destruction. 
It is not, however, the ignorant, if well disposed, but the 
unteachable and the unsteady, whose prejudices disqualify 
them, that are in danger of wresting the Bible, so as to 
force it to speak a non-natural language. Those are most 
liable to misunderstand, who will believe only what they 
'■ 1 Tiioss, V. 27. ' Ruiuaus i. 7. '' 2 Peter iii. 16. 


themselves approve ; and the remedy proposed by Peter 
is not to close the volume, but to groio in grace, and in the 
hnoivlechje of our Lord and Saviour ; and Paul himself in 
his final charge to Timothy >, after saying evil men and 
seducers will ivax ivorse and worse, refers him for guidance 
to the Scriptures, which are able to furnish him thoroughly 
to every good work. 

To enter fully into the spirit of the Epistles, we must 
try to place ourselves in the circumstances of those to 
whom they were written ; yet we must recollect, that the 
writer's mind was so overruled, as to render them an eternal 
possession to the Church of every age and of every land. 
To obtain this edification, we should endeavour first to 
ascertain the main scope of each ; and this may best be 
done by a continuous perusal of the whole, according to 
Locke's™ advice, disregarding the modern division into 
chapters and verses. The contrary practice has been a 
fruitful scheme of error. The insulation of a passage 
from the context has been promoted by preaching from a 
verse ; and it may be said of some, otherwise admirable 
discourses, that their doctrine, though true, does not 
naturally follow from the text, which is sometimes strained 
from the author's meaning. When the reasoning is to 
the general reader obscure, some striking doctrinal state- 
ment or some practical maxim is purposely interwoven, 
which fixes itself in the memory. His conciseness may 
sometimes diminish his clearness, but it is compensated by 
increased energy. Each sentence is pregnant with meaning. 
Witness the many sermons which have grown out of a few 
prolific seeds. 

Gratitude to the Redeemer has been brought forward by 
one ", himself governed by its constraining influence, to be 

' 2 Tim. iii. 13—17. " Paraphrase, Preface. 

" Newtun's Review of Ecclesiastical History, book ii. chap. 2, from 
whicli, and from Hannah More's Essay on the Character of St. Paul, 
I have selected the most valuable of these observations. 


his characteristic influence. When his zeal made him 
appear to many as beside himself, he urged in his vindi- 
cation love of his Master, and is content to be despised 
if Christ be honoured. His sense of his suitableness and 
sufficiency as Author of justification and sanctification is so 
profound, that he is at a loss to express his emotions, and 
declares the inability of language to do justice to the 
subject. He was peculiarly affected by that arresting act 
of mercy, which changed him from a furious persecutor into 
an ardent Apostle, and attachment to his deliverer is in 
consequence his favourite topic. Another Apostle has said. 
Every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth also him that is 
begotten by Him °; and Paul's cordiality to such is apparent 
in all his writings. In sympathy with them, he forgets his 
own sorrows P; and in his confinement at Rome, deprived 
himself of the services of Epaphroditus, that by returning 
he might comfort the Philippians i. He was not even dis- 
couraged by ingratitude, for he could say, / will still gladly 
spend and be spent for you; though the more I love you, the 
less I am loved"^. He compares his conduct to the Thessa- 
lonians, with that of a mother nursing her own children'; 
and marks the pain of an abrupt separation by a term, 
denoting the breaking of the ties which unite parent 
and child'. Nor was this attachment confined to per- 
sonal friends ; those he had not seen had a share in his 
solicitude and his prayers"; and so strong was his desire to 
serve the Churches, that it balanced his habitual wish to 
depart to be with Christ ". 

Another characteristic is integrity, in not adulterating 
his doctrine to please a vitiated taste, but in feeding his 
converts with the unmixed milk of the Gospel. But though 
he would keep back no necessary truth, he exercised great 

o 1 John V. 1 . i> 2 Cor. vii. •< Philip, ii. 25—30. 

r 2 Cor. xii. 15. » 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8 ' Ver. 17. 

" Col. ii. 1. « Philip, i. 23. 


tenderness to weak consciences in non-essentials, as in the 
disputes concerning the obligation of the ceremonial Law. 
He asserted his liberty, yet he would relinquish it rather 
than cause a weak brother to stumble ''. He exhibits a rare 
disinterestedness, for who had such claims as he for a liberal 
maintenance from those to whom he had communicated the 
true riches ; but he could say with truth, we seek not yours, 
hut you^. To cut off the possibility of misconception, he 
worked with his own hands, that he might not be burthen- 
some. Yet he does not propose himself as a model in this 
respect, for he justifies the Minister's right to a proper 
provision, from the maxim, that the labourer is worthy of 
his hire". Still, in enumerating the faults that should 
exclude from the ministry, he names the love of gain. In 
sketching his character, we should not omit his proper care for 
his reputation. Thus when the Corinthians made a collection 
for the poor saints at Jerusalem, he proposes their appoint- 
ing persons to assist him in the distribution of it^. And 
we find from his second Epistle % that his proposal was 
accepted, that there might be no imj)utation against him of 
unfaithfulness in a pecuniary trust. I conclude this im- 
perfect outline with his unaffected humility, which led him 
to esteem himself not meet to he called an Apostle ^, because 
of his former persecution of believers, and ascribing his 
services, which he acknowledged to surpass those of others, 
entirely to the grace of God. The sublimity of his devotion 
and his affectionate faithfulness can be appreciated only by 
those to whom they have been rendered familiar by the study 
of these Epistles. In Cecil's words'^, there is in him a com- 
bination of zeal and love. Zeal alone may degenerate into 
ferocity, love alone into false tenderness, but Paul combined 
both, and realized the union of fortiter in re with suaviter 
in modo. 

y Romans xiv. 21. "^ 2 Cor. xii. 14. "1 Tim. v. 19. 

*> ICor. xvi. 34. " 2Cor. viii.8. "^ 1 Cor. xv. 9 — 11. "^ Remains. 


The Epistles of St. Paul, including that to the Hebrews, 
are fourteen, They have been arranged since the time of 
Epiphanius, according to the dignity of those to whom 
they are addressed. Thus the first place is assigned to 
Rome, the capital of the empire ; Corinth, a Roman colony, 
comes next ; and Galatia, a country , has precedence of Ephesus, 
a city. Individuals follow, and as the authorship of the 
Hebrews has been called in question, it closes the list. I 
copy Lardner's dates. 

Those to the Thessalonians, from Corinth, A.D. 53. 

That to the Galatians, from Corinth, 53. 

That to Titus and the first to Timothy, from Macedonia, 54. 

The first to the Corinthians, from Ephesus, 56. 

The second to the Corinthians, from Macedonia, 57. 

The Epistle to the Komans, from Corintli, 58. 

The Epistle to the Ephesians, ^ 61. 

The second to Timothy, 61. 

Pliilippians, y from Koine, 62. 

. Colossians, I 63. 

Pliilemon, J 62. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews, from Italy, 63. 

It will appear, however, that I prefer a different arrange- 
ment of several of them. 

These Epistles have fewer various readings than the 
Gospels, but the Manuscripts are fewer. 

From the writers of the Epistles, we turn by an easy 
transition to the receivers of them, and we are immediately 
struck by the terms in which they are addressed, which 
would certainly not be used by a pastor of our times to the 
most hopeful congregation. They are addressed as called 
to be saints, that is, holy persons, and that they not only 
professed to be such, but really were, speaking generally, 
appeal's from the eiddit{on,/aithf ulin Christ Jesus ; and not 
only are they described as putting him on, and renouncijig the 
work of darkness, but even as predestinated to the adoption 
M 2 


of children, through sa7ictificaiio?i unto ohsdience. In that 
age, none who were not earnest about their salvation would 
join themselves to a sect spoken against by Jews and 
Gentiles, and liable to frequent persecution. Under such 
circumstances, a congregation would be reduced in number 
and improved in quality, as would speedily appear in any 
age ; and yet under the most favourable circumstances, of how 
few even of such could a pastor speak as Ynsjoy, and crown^ 
of rejoicing ? The Apostles are continually calling upon their 
converts to rejoice in their spiritual privileges, whereas 
modern preachers are more apt to call uj)on their people to 
mourn as penitents and to confess their sins. I am unable to 
trace the change, but in the middle ages, especially after the 
establishment of the doctrine of Purgatory, the Almighty was 
no longer regarded as a loving Father, but as a severe Judge, 
till at last the Roman Catholic doctrine, that it is a duty 
to doubt of one's salvation, prevailed, and the belief of 
being in a state of acceptance was considered an unwarrantable 
and sinful presumption. Such a doctrine was not recognised 
by our Reformers, who maintained, that believers worked 
not for, but from salvation, and performed the good works 
for which they were created, to show their gratitude for re- 
demption. Still, though the doctrine may not be professed 
in words, its spirit is too prevalent ; this voluntary humility 
is even approved of as a sign of grace, and those are made sad 
whom God has not designed should be made sad. Paul, on 
the contrary, assures the Romans^, that the Spirit dwells in 
them, and hears witness ivith their sjnrit that they are the 
children of God, and joint-heirs with Christ : and the 
Ephesianss he treats as no longer strangers and foreigners, 
hut fellow-citizens with the saints, and not to he saved, but 
actually saved by faith; and he calls upon the Corinthians'', 
to examine themselves if they are not in the faith. Any 

e Philip. V. 1. ' Romans viii. 11 — 17. 

g Ephes. ii. 19. G. '• 2 Cor. xiii. 5. 


doubt he considers blameable ; for he adds, Know not your 
own selves that Christ is in you, except ye he reprobate ? 
He tells them, that while the extraordinary gifts of the 
Spirit are only temporary, faith, hope, and charity, are 
permanent abiding graces'. Of the first and last we read 
much in modern as well as in ancient divinity, but the 
second (which I think ought to be rendered expectation, for 
hope in modern language means little more than a wish) is 
too often confounded with the first ; and I have even heard 
Sermons on the Evidences on the text. Render to every man 
a reason of the hope that is in you, as if the Apostle were 
speaking of the truth of Christianity, not of an individual's 
interest in it. An important place is assigned to Hope in 
Scripture; for it is called the Christian's /«e/we^'', and the 
anchor'^ within the veil to which his vessel is fastened, so that 
it rides through the storm without anxiety ; and it is this 
grace that makes the believer not ashamed^'"-, I am persuaded 
that divines have abandoned, though with the best intentions, 
the encouraging and cheerful tone of the Apostles, and have 
taught believers to ascertain if they be in a state of grace, 
if not from their feelings, yet by a careful and rigid self- 
examination. Such examination may at times be beneficial 
to all, yet it has a tendency to generate a morbid scru- 
pulosity ; and we should recollect, that justification by faith 
has been pronounced by our Reformers to be not only 
full of comfort, but wholesome. The constraining motives 
to obedience, inseparably connected with faith, show, that 
meditation on it will, better than any ingenious schemes of 
human devising, promote growth in grace. If satisfied that 
we are God's adopted children, it would be better that we 
should, like the Apostle, forgetting the things that are 
behind, reach forward to those which are before, and -press 
towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus''. 

i 1 Cor. xiii. 13. " 1 Thess. v. 9. ' Heb. vi. J 9. 

" Romans v. 5. " Philip, iii. 14. 


Another remarkable difference is, their personal attachment 
to a personal Saviour, whom, as well as ourselves, they 
have not seen, and to whose almighty energy they looked 
to transform them into his image. Modern believers are 
apt to rest on an abstract idea of salvation, and look 
forward to a future life not so much with joy, as resignation. 
We speak of it as a departure from the world ; but they 
expected the Lord to come, and to make this earth, renewed 
by fire, a home worthy of him, its King, and his purified 
people. It is true, that the faithful of that and subsequent 
generations have been taken to him, instead of his coming 
to them, and the two expressions may be deemed equivalent. 
Yet I think it will appear on examination, that the tendency 
of the former is to fix our thoughts mainly on our own 
fitness ; that of the latter to transfer them to his glory, 
though including our participation in it. In the former 
case, our personal happiness is the absorbing idea, connected 
it may be with the hope of enjoying the society of our 
friends, and of being admitted into a fuller knowledge 
of the wonders of creation and providence. In the latter, 
adoring gratitude is eager to offer the homage of the heart 
to that Saviour and Intercessor, who has perfected his 
people through sufferings, and by partaking of their nature, 
has exalted them above Angels, and made them his brethren, 
and so the children of his Father. 



When Paul was compelled by the Corinthians to a 
confidence of boasting, he enumerates among his trials what 
comes upon him daily, the care of all the Churches^. This is 
strikingly illustrated by his conduct towards the Thes- 
salonians. Forced as he had been to leave them abruptly 
with pastors, who were themselves inexperienced converts, 
to be harassed by Jews zealous for the Law, and pagans 
no less zealous for the unconscious idols, from which 
they had lately turned to serve the living God; he felt for 
them as a nursing mother for her oiv7i offspring. This he 
showed by sending back to them Timothy, his brother and 
fellow-labom-er, to establish and comfort them^, though he 
would have been serviceable to himself at Athens, where, 
according to his own appointment, he had joined him. He 
returned to him at Corinth with such good tidings of their 
faith and love, and affectionate remembrance of himself, as 
filled him with joy and gratitude. He had exceedingly 
longed to see their face, and perfect that which was lacking 
in their faith, and would have come to them once and again, 
but Satan hindered him. He therefore dictated to them a 
letter, breathing the spirit of parental love, full of com- 
mendation, with scarce a reproof. 

» 2 Cor. xi. 28. ^ 1 Tim. iii. 2. 



This Church therefore was inferior to none in the fruits 
of faith, and consequently he declares his knowledge of 
their personal election to salvation ; a charitable conclusion, 
which he felt entitled to draw from their work of faith, 
their labour of love, and patience of hope, the only evidence 
of it to themselves or others, and which we must under- 
stand him to affirm only of such as, to use his own words 
to them, would be preserved blameless unto the coming of 
the Lord". 

No doctrine is formally treated in this Epistle, even the 
Resurrection is only incidentally introduced as a topic of 
consolation to surviving believers ; and the main purport 
of it seems to be to strengthen these recent converts, and 
to encourage them under trial, and even persecution, to 
abound more in their Christian walk. 

Joining Sylvanus and Timothy with himself, he begins 
with thanking God for their active faith, laborious love, 
and persevering hope, (the Christian graces, on which he 
dwells at more length in his first Epistle to the Corinthians,) 
and that the Gospel had not come to them merely in words 
as an amusing speculation, but in the power of the Holy 
Spirit, effecting such a conviction as caused them to embrace 
it with a full assurance of heart, though in much affliction, 
so that they became imitators'^ not of Paul alone, but of the 

e " Predestination to life, whereby God had constantly decreed by his 
counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he 
hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to 
everlasting salvation," is the language of our XVIIth Article; and the 
Church of Scotland expresses in still stronger terms the same doctrine; 
yet two celebrated co'nmentators of these Churches, Whitby and 
Macknight, resolve this into national election. An unbiassed reader will, 
I think, agree with me, that the signs of grace specified in these Thes- 
salonians, and their imitation of Paul, and of Him who was his and their 
Lord, show, that the writer referred to their personal election ; and surely 
it must be as individuals that he calls them his hope, joy, and croton 
of rejoicing, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at hi^ coming. 
1 Thess. iii. 19, 20. 

'' M(;u7)To), is more tha.n followers. 


Lord, and so patterns to all who believed in Greece,^ or, as 
he expresses it according to Roman political geography, 
Macedonia and Achaia. He reminds them of his labours 
among them, and his affection for them, shown by his 
refusing to burthen them with his maintenance, appealing 
to them as witnesses that his preaching had not been that 
of one who was mistaken, or would deceive, or had interested 
motives, but of one who spoke not to flatter men, but to 
please God. He now writes what he had told them when 
with them, that the will of God was their sanctification, 
for 'that God had called them not for impurity, but for 
holiness ; and that therefore none should pass beyond the 
bounds of chastity, or defraud his brother in this matter^, for 
the Lord will punish all such misdeeds. He praises their 
brotherly love, which he needed not to enforce as it had been 
taught them by God, and exhorts them to study to be 
quiet and diligent, and to work with their own hands, both 
that they might be respectable in the eyes of their heathen 
neighbours, and might not require to be helped by others. 
Timothy had probably informed him of the death of some 
whom they had loved, and he is anxious that they should, 
not give way to inordinate grief, like the other Thes- 
salonians who had no hope, but comforts them with a brief 
account of the resurrection of believers. For if we believe 
that Jesus died and rose again, so we must believe that God 
will bring to glory with Jesus those who sleep in him. We 
make known to you by the command of the Lord, that we 
who remain alive at the Lord's coming, shall not anticipate 
them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend 
from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, 
and tvith the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall 

e 'Ef T^ iTpdyixaTt. 1 Thess. iv. 6. Our Version, any matter, suggests 
other modes of injustice, and agrees with that of the Vulgate and Beza, 
but the Greek commentators seem more correct in limiting it to this one 


rise jirst : afterwards toe who are alive shall he caught up in 
the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we he 
ever luith him. He adds, that they need no warning, since 
they know that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the 
nighty hut that it will not so take them hy surprise, since they 
are not in darkness, for they are children of light, and children 
of the day. As such then they must watch and be sober, 
putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet 
of hope, intimating thereby that they would have enemies to 
encounter. He condenses much moral exhortation into a few 
sentences, admonishing them to abstain from every kind^ of 
wickedness, and prays that the God of peace may preserve 
their wholes person, spirit, soul, and body, unblameable, unto 
the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In conclusion, he 
solemnly adjures them to read out the Epistle to all the 
holy brethren, an evidence of its authenticity and the writer's 
claim of inspiration, since it places it on the same footing as 
the ancient Scriptures ; and before he had expressly main- 
tained ifi, w^hen he affirmed, He that despiseth us, despiseth 
not man hut God, who hath given utito us his Holy Spirit; 
alluding apparently to our Lord's declaration, He that 
despiseth you, despiseth meK 

The divinity of Christ, and his unity with the Father, 
is implied in the prayer; Now God himself, even our 
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you ; 
not to mention the ordinary wish of grace and peace from 
the Saviour as well as from the Father, with which the 
letter opens, and his grace with which it ends. 

{ eZSos may he rendered as by our translators appearance, but I believe 
that I have given the true sense. 

e In modern ontology, man is considered as composed of body apd soul ; 

but the ancient philosophers maintained that the soul, ^vxht was possessed 

by him as the principle of animal life, in common with other living 

creatures, while the spirit or intellect, irvfvfia, was his peculiar characteristic. 

•• 1 Tbess. iv. 8. • Luke x. 16. 

thessalonians. 171 

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. 

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written 
while Silvanus and Timothy were still with Paul, and 
probahly after a short interval, and before he was dragged 
to the governor's tribunal, as he does not advert to that 
event, though he might see the storm approaching, and hint 
at it when soliciting their prayers, that the word of God 
might have free unobstructed course, and be glorified in its 
effects, as it had been among them, and that he might be 
delivered from wicked and irrational men^. 

He begins with saying, that he had reason to thank 
God always on their account for their growth in faith 
and love, notwithstanding their persecutions, which made 
him boast of them among the Churches, which he con- 
siders a proof of the just judgment of God, in counting 
them worthy of his kingdom, who while he will afflict 
those who afflict them, will grant them with himself 
refreshment in the day when the Lord Jesus shall be re- 
vealed from heaven, inflicting punishment on them who 
know not God, and on them who obey not the Gospel, 
when he shall come to be glorified by his angels''^, and 
admired by all believers. Thus he incidentally introduces 
his main topic, the rectifying their expectation of the speedy 
coming of the day of judgment, grounded in part on a 
misconception of his language in the former Epistle, (as 
reckoning himself among those then alive,) and as some 
think in part by a forged one circulated among them as 
from him". This would explain his adding the salutation 

" Acts xviii. 12. '2 Thess. ii. 2, 3. 

™ Angels and saints are here contrasted; and this translation is justified 
by the declaration in the former Epistle, iii. 13. that the Lord ivill come 
with all his saints, i. e. holy ones ; and according to Enoch, quoted by Jude, 
ver. 14. Behold the Lord Cometh, with ten thousand of his saints. 

" 2 Thess. ii. 2. 


of Paul with mine own hand, which is tlie sign in every 
Epistle. It is extraordinary that Grotius, Locke, and 
other commentators of note, should affirm, that the Apostles 
Believed that the day of judgment would happen in their 
time, a notion which infidels catch at with avidity, for a 
mistake in this point would go far to invalidate their autho- 
rity on all, for in no case is inspiration more peremptorily 
asserted. And Paul in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians 
thus introduced his notice of that day. We say unto you hy 
the word of the Lord". The historian p of the Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire assigns this expectation as one 
cause of the rapid progress of Christianity. " It was," he 
says, " universally believed, that the end of the world was 
at hand, and the near approach of this wonderful event had 
been predicted by the Apostles." And yet, however pre- 
valent this notion might have become, we know that Paul 
was not responsible for it, since, in his Epistle to the 
Romans 1, he speaks of the recovery of Israel as preceding 
the general conversion of the Gentiles, events which must 
occupy some time, and which he could hardly expect to 
outlive ; and the very Epistle we are now considering was 
written, that the Thessalonians should not be shaken in 
mind or troubled, as if the day of Christ was at hand". 
He, in fact, puts it off" to a remote futurity ; for he reminds 
them, how, even while with them he had taught that there 
must be the apostasy first, and that the man of sin and son 
of perdition (Hebraisms for a preeminent sinner destined 
to perish) should be revealed, not immediately, but in his 
season; for there was then an impediment to his appearance, 
which should be taken away, and which he did not think 
it prudent to specify. This obstacle, the Fathers inform us, 
was the Pagan Roman Empire ; and to have announced 
in plain terms the fate of the eternal city, as the Romans 

" 1 Thess. iv. 15. v Gibbon, ch. xv. 

T Romans xi. ' 2 Thess. ii. 2. 


proudly called their capital, might even have exposed him 
to the charge of treason. Prudence, therefore, and a proper 
regard to his own safety, forbade his vi^arning it in a letter 
which was to be read in the public assemblies of the 
Christians. Tertullian, about a century and a half later, 
ventures to reveal this secret during a period of persecution, 
but he does not affix his name to his Apology ^ After saying 
that their Scriptures command Christians to pray for their 
sovereigns, he adds, " we lie under a still stronger necessity, 
the awful apprehension vve entertain of the last day, and of 
the conflagration of the universe, which is deferred till the 
pompous and triumphant majesty of the Roman Empire 
ceases." What is this Apostasy, and who is the man of sin, 
are questions of more than learned curiosity. They have 
been variously explained, but the conjectures of eminent men 
have been unworthy of them ; and the Emperor Caligula 
or Simon Magus, which have occurred to Grotius and 
Hammond, were not men of sufficient note to impress im- 
portance on their age. Tertullian, and, what is of more im- 
portance, the writer himself, regards this defection as future. 
Augustine and Chrysostom also suppose the obstacle to be the 
predominance of a heathen civil power. As that declined, 
a new ecclesiastical one gradually grew up, and as it was 
unhappily accomj)anied with great corruption of faith and 
practice, and imitated heathen Rome in its persecuting 
cruelty, Protestant commentators generally apply the 
prophecy to the Roman Church, and believe that they have 
discovered the man of sin in the series of its Popes. Others 
explain it of Mohammed, or the spirit of modern infidelity. 
Certainly, however, the seat of this power is the temple 
of God, and as that material fabric has long perished, 
it must be figuratively transferred to the Christian Church; 
an interpretation justified by the passages in the Epistles', 
which represent Jew and Gentile as built up together for 
s Tert. Ap. xliv. ' Ephes. ii. 


a holy temple to the Lord*. This necessarily limits the 
interpretation to some person claiming spiritual authority 
.in the Church ; and looking hack down the long vista of past 
history, we find no corruption of the truth great enough to 
deserve these denunciations, except the system of the 
self-styled universal Bishop, and Vicar of Christ. 

This man of sin, or lawless one, as he is also called, 
appears to be the little horn of Daniel, who shall speak 
great words against the Most High, and wear out his saints"; 
and the Antichrist of St. John, a power which rises out 
of the Church, and is its decided enemy. But some consider, 
that though the Roman Church has neutralized by its 
grievous eri'ors the value of the Redeemer's sacrifice of 
himself and his mediation, it has not, because it retains in 
words at least the doctrine of the first four General 
Councils, actually apostatized, and that the Pope cannot be 
Antichrist, since though he claims an unchristian pre- 
eminence, and receives honours which ought not to be 
paid to men, still he professes to act not as the opponent 
but as the substitute of Christ. But the false miracles 
ascribed to him seem to fix the charge on that corrupt Church : 
and Benson, and Bishop Newton, (in his Dissertations dn 
the Man of Sin,) have satisfied most Protestants, that the 
charge has been established. Even those futurists, as they 
are called, who expect, like the Fathers, a personal Anti- 
christ, will hardly deny that the Popes have exhibited 
many features of this man of sin, and that at least the 
secret of iniquity, which was already working in the times 
of the Apostle, had been by them partially developed. 

Short as this Epistle is, it is very important, and it aflbrds 
in this memorable prediction an additional evidence to us, 
who have read its partial accomplishment, of the writer's 
inspiration. In earlier times it must have been taken 
upon trust, and must have been a hard sayiiig, for the 
' 1 Tim. iii. 15. 1 Cor. iii. IH. 2 Cor. vi. 16. " Daniel vii. 25. 


principles and conduct of the man of sin are so contrary to 
those of the Gospel, that it would seem hardly credible that 
they should ever predominate in the Church. The weapon 
which is to destroy this enemy is a sharp sword proceeding 
out of the Lord's mouth, that is, the written word^. 
This lawless one, the Apostle assures us, the Lord will con- 
sume, and he will destroy by the manifestation of his presence. 
The Antichrist the Fathers expected was an individual, 
who was for a very short season to suppress the profession 
of Christianity ; and it must be allowed, that it may seem 
harsh to explain the title of a succession of men. Still the 
same objection might be urged against the animals by which 
Daniel symbolized empires, including in them of necessity 
a succession of sovereigns ; and the text seems to me to 
require a similar interpretation, for the secret iniquity was 
already working, and showed itself in some of its doctrinal 
corruptions in Gnosticism ; and if the obstacle to its full 
development was the Roman empire, it is so long since it 
passed away, that it ought to have shown itself by this 
time. I therefore acquiesce in the general interpretation of 
Protestant commentators, for it appears to me clear, that 
we are warned not against infidelity, but against a plausible 
insidious corruption of the truth, which it contrives by the 
invention of men to neutralize, and in some respects to 
pervert. The reader will judge from the Apostle's de- 
lineation of the man of sin, coming, according to the energy 
of Satan, with lying wonders and unrighteous deceptions. 
But he comforts them with the assurance, that those alone 
will be deceived, who love not the truth, but take pleasure 
in falsehood ; and God has called them through the Gospel to 
obtain the glory of Jesus Christ. He charges them to stand 
fast, and retain whatever he had taught them orally or by 
letter, and prays that the Lord Jesus Christ and God the 
Father will establish them iii every good word and work. He 
* Rev. xix. 15. 


solicits their prayers for himself, that the word of God may 
be glorified in other places as with them, and for his deliver- 
ance, declaring his confidence, that they do and will obey 
his commands ; and again prays that the Lordy may direct 
their hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for 

The Greeks had the character of being idle, and there were 
in Thessalonica converts, who would make religion a pretence 
for neglecting the obvious duty of industry. In this second 
Epistle, therefore, he reproves such in stronger terms, and 
calls upon them to withdraw from every brother who walketh 
disorderly. To counteract this evil, he proposes his own 
example ; for, though he had a right to be maintained by 
them, he had wrought day and night that he might not be 
chargeable to any. When with them he had commanded, 
that any who would not work, should not be maintained 
by the congregation ; and they were not to associate with 
such an one, that he might he ashamed. His tender dis- 
position causes him to add, yet account him not as an enemy, 
hut admonish him as a hrother. He concludes with a prayer, 
that the Lord of peace may himself give them peace ahoays 
hy all means. 

Tertullian's Apology'' shows, that in his time Christianity 
was chai-ged in making men useless and unsocial. 

The Apostle seems to have given up his design of re- 
turning to Thessalonica, and he did not revisit it till four 
or five years later. 

y The Lord thus mentioned seems to be distinguished both from God 
and from Christ, and if so, is an example of i:>rayer to the Holy Ghost. 
' Ap. Iv. 



This Epistle was, I assume with many critics, written 
after those to the Thessalonians, during this same residence 
at Corinth, and sent to Ancyra the capital by Titus. The 
Galatai of the Greeks, better known to us under the Latin 
name, Galli, had long been formidable to their civilized 
neighbours. At an early period, they had possessed them- 
selves of the north of Italy, had once taken Rome, and after- 
wards endangered the Repviblic : and a division of them, 
which had overrun Greece nearly three centuries before the 
Christian eera, crossing the Hellespont, hired themselves to 
Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, who rewarded their services by 
the grant of an inland territory in the lesser Asia, which ob- 
tained from them the name of Gallo-Graecia, or Galatia. They 
retained their Celtic language, resembling the dialect spoken 
at Treves, in the time of Jerome. Still, like the natives of 
most of the countries subdued by Alexander, they under- 
stood Greek. Paul, on his second journey soon after the 
Council of Jerusalem, went through Phrygia and Galatia*. 
No particulars ^re recorded, but he seems to have been 
most successful. For they welcomed him as if he had been 
an angel, or even Christ himself, and would even have 
plucked out their eyes to give him''; and he had conferred 
upon them the miraculous gifts of the Spirit <=. After his 

* Acts xvi. G. ^ Gal. iv. 14. "^ Gal. iii. 2. 




departure, these great corrupters of the primitive faith, 
judaizing Christians, who blended together Law and Gospel, 
maintaining that conformity to the first was an indispensable 
condition of justification, endeavoured to subvert his teach- 
ing, by maintaining that he had not the authority of an 
Apostle. It should seem that their motive was not a mis- 
taken attachment to the Law, but a desire of thus avoiding 
persecution, by conciliating the Jews ; for Paul tells the 
Galatians, that they did not themselves keep the Law<J. 
Yet such had been their influence, that they had persuaded 
many of the Gentile converts to submit to circumcision. 
This defection from the genuine Gospel constrained Paul 
to write, for he stood in doubt of them ^, and was afraid that 
he had bestowed upon them labour in vain ^ And to show 
his affection, and the importance he attached to the subject, 
he writes, contrary to his ordinary practice, with his own 
hand, in characters which indicate that the art was not 
familiar to him^. 

The scope of the Epistle is, L the vindication of the 
writer's autiiority ; 2. an explanation in confutation of his 
adversaries of the proper use of the Law ; and, 3. the con- 
firming the Galatians in the vital doctrine of Justification 
by Faith. 

This doctrine, which pervades and animates all the Epistles, 
is most fully stated in this. The Son of God became flesh, 
not to teach a purer morality, or to prove the resurrection 
from the dead, but to atone for sin, and render mankind 
capable of eternal happiness. Nothing ought to be added 

•> Gal. vi. 13. = Gal. iv. 20. f Gal. iv. 1 1 . 

B "iSere irr)\lKots v/mv ypd/ifiatriv eypa\j/a. Our translation is iu conformity 
with that of Beza, and of Le Clerc and Boausobre, still it seems to me a 
forced one, and also that the letter can hardly be considered as long. 
I prefer Theodoret's rendering, which derives authority from hiskuowledge 
of the lan^-uage. ' la what large clumsy characters I have written,' 
meaning though he rould not write well, still he would write with his own 


to Christ in the Article of Justification. Dependence on 
the Mosaic Law, was the heresy which Paul had to combat ; 
but good works, or any other substitute or addition, is in 
principle, though not in terms, the same fundamental error. 
If then Justification by Faith alone is the foundation of 
Christianity, and if Justification, at least in part by human 
agency, is a doctrine congenial to the unrenewed heart, as 
appears from its continual revival in various forms of self- 
righteousness, as in austerities or acts of worship of human 
device or philosophical theories of morals, it will be against 
this fundamental tenet that the adversary will mainly direct 
his attack ; and as scriptural knowledge is more diffused, he 
will direct it not so much by open assault, as in a covert and 
insidious form. To keep it pure from any mixture, we 
must represent in its just dimensions the extent and power 
of natural corruption. Convince the world of sin and judg- 
ment, and it will seek justification where alone it can be 
found. Reject God's own mode of acceptance, and you 
become bound to keep the whole law, and are fallen from 
favour {grace). 

This doctrine distinguishes Christianity from every other 
religion, which assumes that man is still under the covenant 
of works, and teaches him how to keep it, or to obtain 
forgiveness for its occasional violations. Adam was placed 
under it, and perfect obedience to it would have been 
his justification ; but his descendants inheriting his corrupt 
nature, and, like him, transgressors, require atonement for 
past disobedience, and divine aid to keep the Law in 
future. Man must be justified, or reckoned just, by a 
perfect righteousness, for the perfectly holy God requires 
perfect obedience to his perfect law. Such righteousness 
no sinner can possibly produce, but the mercy of God 
accepts it as exhibited in the man Christ Jesus. In him 
all who aspire to be saved must be found, not having their 
own righteo7isness, which is of the Law, but that which is 

N ^ 


through the faith of Christ, the righteousness ivhich is of 
God by faith ^. For he hath made him to be sin for us, 
who knew no sin, that we might he made the righteousness 
of God in hiniK Consequently, as the sinner cannot plead 
merit, he brings nothing to recommend him, except the 
conviction of his lost and helpless condition, and a willing- 
ness to be saved in God's appointed way. So humiliating 
a doctrine, which leaves no room for boasting save in 
the cross of Christ, must, under all modifications of opinions 
and feelings, be odious to the carnal mind. It has been 
therefore, according to circumstances, openly denied, or 
frittered away by omissions and additions, till it became 
quite another Gospel than that which the Apostles 
preached. We find, that in many of the Churches of Paul's 
planting, false teachers endeavoured to establish their own 
righteousness. He was therefore continually opposing 
them, but in no Epistle so methodically as in those to the 
Romans and the Galatians. In the former he demonstrates, 
that neither Jews nor Gentiles can be justified by obedience; 
in the latter, that sinners, that is all men, must be justified 
not by the sacrifices and purifications of the Law, but by 
faith in the righteousness of God. The severity with which 
he rebukes these false teachers, shows that he considered 
the Gospel itself to be in clanger. He uses address and 
caution in counteracting the delusions of the Corinthians, 
because though they had built hay, wood, and stubble, still 
it was upon the true foundation. The perverters of the 
Galatians were laying another, and acquiescence in their 
teaching was a virtual renunciation of the Gospel. Augus- 
tine had vindicated the Scriptural doctrine against Pela- 
gianism, but it was revived with subtle distinctions by the 
Schoolmen, and prevailed till it was opposed by Luther, 
who called Justification through Faith the sign of a rising 
or falling Church. None maintains it more positively than 
'• Phil. iii. 9. ' 2 Cor. v. 21. 


our own, which not only affirms its truth, but declares it to 
be most wholesome, and very full of comfort^. 

The Epistle opens with a brief sketch of the writer's 
life, recording several particulars omitted in the Acts, 
in order to show his- independent Apostolical authority. 
He begins with saying, that he is an Apostle not from men, 
nor appointed through any man, but through Jesus Christ 
and God, who raised him from the dead ; and that he was 
not taught the Gospel which he preached (and was the only 
true one) by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, 
of which they must have heard. To show that he had no 
human instruction, he observes, that without conferring 
with flesh and blood, he went immediately after his con- 
version into Arabia, and afterwards on his return to Da- 
mascus preached without any intercourse with Peter, whom 
he saw for the first time three years after at Jerusalem, 
and then only for a fortnight. His second visit was 
fourteen years after, when he proved his consistency by not 
allowing the circumcision of his Gentile convert Titus, 
and was treated by Peter, James, and John, as on the same 
footing as themselves. He afterwards showed his inde- 
pendence and faithfulness, by rebuking Peter to his face, 
because he was to be blamed for his undue compliance 
with the Law. 

He then passes on to arguments, and expresses his 
amazement at the fascination of these thoughtless Galatians, 
since the crucifixion of Christ had been as vividly brought 
before them as if they had actually seen it ; and they had 
their own experience of the miraculous gifts of the Holy 
Spirit, which they must know they had not received from 
their judaizing teachers, but from himself through the 
hearing of faith, and not from the works of the Law. He 
states, that Abraham himself was accepted for his faith in 
the promised Saviour, who was to proceed from him, which 
^ Art. xi. 


being accepted for righteousness, those who possess it 
(whether of Hebrew or of Gentile birth) are counted as his 
children, and are blessed with him according to the promise, 
In thy seed shall (not Israelites alone, his descendants after 
the flesh, but) all the nations of the earth be blessed. The 
Law, on the contrary, pronounces him cursed, who breaks it 
but in a single instance. No one therefore can be justified 
by it; and this Scripture confesses, for, as Habakkuk"^ wrote, 
the just shall live (not by works, but) by his faith. Thus 
Christ having bought us, by becoming for us accursed, this 
blessing of Abraham came on the Gentiles by Jesus Christ. 
Now this promise, had it been only a man's covenant, using 
popular language, could neither be disannulled or enlarged ; 
and this covenant, which was confirmed before by God, the 
Law, enacted more than four centuries after, cannot render 
void, and make the promise of none effect. But since the 
inheritance was a free gift to Abraham, and did not come 
from the Law, it was natural to ask the use of the latter. 
The answer is. It ivas added (to the covenant) because of 
transgressions, till the promised seed should come, and was 
ordained in the hands of a Mediator. Now his office implies 
mediation between two parties ; but God is one, the only 
party present when the Law was promulgated on Sinai 
through the intervention of Moses as a typical mediator, 
but he could not act for the Gentiles, nor even supersede 
the Abrahamic covenant with Israel. The Sinai cove- 
nant was distinct from the Abrahamic, as the standard of 
duty was distinct from the Gospel, the foundation of 
a sinner's hope, and the shadows of the ceremonies from 
Christ the substance, but they were not coiitrary to each 
other. Still it was never intended to give life, because all 
men have broken it, and are prone to break it ; for if so, 
justification would have been through it, and the plan of 
redemption would have been superfluous. But the Scrip- 
"' Ilah. ii. 4. 



ture shut up all men as prisoners waiting for the revelation 
of the promised Deliverer ; yet this w^as intended to recom- 
mend the Gospel to those who in faith accepted it. Having 
compared the Lord to a jailor, the Apostle now changes the 
figure, not for a schoolmaster, but for a pedagogue, that 
is, the person whose duty it was to bring boys to the 
teacher. When brought to Christ, and baptized into his 
religion, all are alike children of God by faith, and 
reckoned as Abraham's seed, for there is no longer 
any national, or personal, or even sexual distinction. 
At the proper season, the promise made to Eve was at 
length fulfilled ; God sent forth his Son made of a woman, 
made under the Law, that ive might receive the adoption 
of sons. Before his coming they were under bondage, 
as an heir in his minority is under tutors and governors ; 
and he appeals to the Spirit of the Son dwelling in them, 
and moving them to address God as their Father, as 
evidence of their being through Christ heirs of God. He 
affectionately expostulates with them, on their perverseness 
in turning back again to weak and beggarly elements, 
(whether Jewish or Pagan,) and he declares his uneasiness 
about them, as they were now observing Jewish festivals. 
Fearing, however, to distress them by language too strong, 
he entreats them to be as cordial to him as he was to them ; 
reminding them, that he had been as zealous for the Law 
formerly as they were now, and had not been injured by 
them ; and refers to their reception of him, as kind as if 
he had been an Angel, or even Christ, notwithstanding 
they might have despised him, because of his temptation 
in the flesh. He then tells them, that though they desire 
to be under the Law, they do not understand it, which he 
shows from an allegorical" interpretation of the history 

" Bishop Marsh, in his Lectures, ohjects to the EngHsh version an allegory, 
which he justly remarks ought to have been allegorized, since the former 
implies that the history is not real, whereas the Apostle only draws out 


of the two sons of Abraham, showing that Hagar the 
mother of Ishmael was a type of the Jewish Church which 
is in bondage, while Sarah the freewoman is a type of the 
Christian, the Jerusalem which is above, and is the mother 
of all believers, whether originally Jews or heathen ; and he 
acconnuodates to his purpose the opening of the fifty-fourth 
chapter of Isaiah, Many more are the children of the deserted, 
(that is, Sarah the wife,) than of Hagar, she tvho had (co- 
habited, with) the husband. They were properly Ishmaelites, 
while all Christians were the children of promise like 
Isaac, and had been persecuted in like manner as he 
had been by his brother. Cast out, he concludes, in 
quoting Sarah's words, the bo?idwovian and her son, in- 
timating it should seem that they should separate them- 
selves from those judaizing perverters of the law. If they 
submitted to circumcision, they brought themselves under 
an obligation to keep the whole Law ; he therefore exhorts 
them to stand fast in tiieir Christian liberty, and explains 
that the faith which he had been magnifying was not a 
mere assent of the understanding, but a principle working 
by love ; and that he may be fully understood, he says, 
love is the fulfilling of the law, and he conti-asts the 
works of the flesh and of the Spirit. From the list of 
the former, comprehending envyings, murders, hatred, and 
heresies, as well as uncleanness and drunkenness, we 
perceive that he uses flesh, not in the restricted sense of 
modern times, but as comprehending all the vicious in- 
clinations of the unregenerate. The flesh, (in this large 
sense,) he says, fhei/ that are Christ's have crucified. 
After advising them to treat those who had erred in the 
spirit of meekness, remembering their own frailty, to provide 

of facts a secondary liiddeu meaning. 1 1 is clearly not an argument, 
but ail illustration. It is a mode of reasoning common with the Jews, 
but is obviously liable to abuse, and we can have no confidence in it, 
except when, as in this instance, it is suggested by the Holy Spirit. 


liberally for their teachers, and to avail themselves of the 
opportunity oi doing good unto all men, and especially to those 
who are of the household of faith, he tells us, that it was 
not for their sake that the false teachers urged them to 
be circumcised, but for their own advantage, that they 
might make a fair show in the flesh, (gain credit,) and 
make a boast of the circumcision of the Galatian believei's ; 
hut God forbid, he adds, that I should glory, save in the 
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he is crucified to 
all worldly distinctions ; valuing neither circumcision nor 
uncircumcision, regarding a new creation as alone import- 
ant, and in all who walked according to this rule, even to 
the Israel of God, (not after the flesh,) he prays for peace 
and mercy. As what he had written was sufficient to 
satisfy reasonable enquiries, he desires to be no further 
troubled, for lie bears on his body the effects of stripes 
and blows, the marks (stigmata), as he calls them, of the Lord 
Jesus, which attest at once faithfulness, and his acknow- 
ledgment of him as the object of his worship". 

At Corinth Paul reasoned daily in the synagogue ; but he 
met with so much opposition and reviling from the Jews, 
that he gave them up as hopeless, and as a sign of his 
leaving them to themselves, shook his robe, and said. Your 
blood be upon your own heads, I am clean ; from henceforth 
I will go unto the Gentiles. He removed to the house of 
Justus, a proselyte, which was contiguous ; and though the 
Jews in general were obdurate, Crispus, the ruler of the 
synagogue, believed with all his house. Many others also of 
the Corinthians were baptized. Nevertheless, the Apostle 

o Thus in the Apocalypse we read of those who receive the mark of 
the beast in the foreiiead, or in the liaiicl, xiv. 9; and ver. 1. of those who 
had the Lamb's Father's name on their foreheads. 


seems to have been cast down by this opposition, and a con- 
sciousness of his own natural insufficiency and of his 
infirmities, for he afterwards confessed in his first Epistle 
to them, / was zoiih you in tveahiess, and in fear, and in 
much trenihling^' ; and in his second'', that his bodily presence 
was treated by some as weak, and his speech as con- 
temptible, and that he had a thorn in the fiesh"^ to humble 
him. What it was we are left to conjecture ; according to 
some, weakness of sight ; I think it was some impedi- 
ment in his speech ; certainly, though called a messenger 
of Satan, it could have been no sinful propensity, for 
when he prayed for its removal, he was told that the Lord's 
strength was perfected in his loeakness, which caused him 
even to glory in it. The Saviour consequently appeared 
to him in a vision, to encourage him, with the assurance 
that no one should injure him, and that he had much 
people in the town for him to convert. Paul therefore 
continued in Corinth a year and a half; during which period 
a new Proconsul arrived, M. Annaeus Novatus, who took 
the name of Gallio, his adopted father. It is interesting 
to know, that he was a younger brother of the famous 
philosopher Seneca, the tutor of Nero ; to which relationship 
no doubt he owed his elevation, and when his brother was 
disgraced, he also was condemned to death. According 
to his brother, he^ was much beloved for his gentleness 
and unaflected amiability, a character which is confirmed by 
less partial testimony S but it seems to have degenerated 
into weakness ; for when Paul was brought before him on 
the charge of worshipping God contrary to the Law, 
though he justly refused to take cognizance of such a 
subject, he suffered Sosthenes to be beaten in his presence; 
and it is observed, that he cared for none of those things. 
At length Paul sailed for Asia, taking with him Aquila and 

p 1 Cor. ii. 3. '• 2 Cur. x. 10. '2 <;or. xii. 7- 

> Qufpst. Nat. iv. pia-fat. ' :>tatius, Silva, ii. 7. 32. 


Priscilla, having shorn his head" at Cenchrea, probably 
in consequence of a vow made for some extraordinary 
deliverance. Paul left these companions at Ephesus, and 
took the opportunity of preaching once in the synagogue, 
but he could not be prevailed upon to lengthen his stay, 
being impatient to keep the passover in Jerusalem. He 
sailed therefore to Csesarea, went up to salute the believers 
at Jerusalem, and retvirned to Antioch, having accomplished 
his second Missionary journey in about four years. 

" The arrangement of the words leaves it douhtful who it was that 
shaved himself ; the Vulgate refers it to Aquila, and is supported by the 
opinion-of Chrysostom; but I think Luke would not have thought the faet 
worth mentioning, unless he meant to speak of Paul. 



The date of this Epistle has caused much perplexity, for 
neither Titus nor Crete, where he was left by the Apostle 
to set in order the things tvanting, are named in the Acts. 
We know however from himself, that he had made many 
voyages prior to the one described in that book, and I adopt 
the probable conjecture of Michaelis, that he availed him- 
self of this residence at Corinth to sail to that island, and 
that he wrote this charge to Titus on his return to that city. 
This Epistle and that to Timothy are so similar, not only 
in matter but also in words, like those to the Ephesians and 
Colossians, that our first impression is, that they must have 
been written at the same time. Still, as it appears from 
Paul's own words, that he had left Timothy at Ephesus, we 
must explain the resemblance by the supposition, that in 
composing the latter he consulted his copy of the former. 
They reflect so much light upon each other, that I have 
placed them together. 

The writer calls Titus as well as Timothy his own son 
in the faith, but their tempers seem to have been different, 
for Timothy is enjoined to rebuke with gentleness, Titus 
sharply, though more perhaps depended on the character 
of their congregations; for in Crete there were many 
unruly., vain talkers, and deceivers, whose mouths required 
to be bridled, because they subverted the faith of whole 

TITUS. 189 

households, justifying the censure of one of their own poets, 
Epimenides, who called them, 

KpTjTis del xpevffTai, KaK^i, 6r]pla, yaarepes apyal. 
False Cretans, savage beasts, with bellies slow. 

The fables they gave heed to were Jewish, and therefore 
we presume that those which were hurtful to the Ephesians 
were the same. The instructions respecting the ministerial 
office, and the duties inculcated on the laity, in both 
Epistles substantially agree ; but it is in this required in 
addition of the presbyter, that he be not self-willed, or 
passionate, and must be just and Jioly. Speaking of the 
duties of servants, he observes, that they must not answer 
again, or purloin, but show all good faithfulness ; and as 
to Timothy he had given the negative reason, that their 
religion might not be reviled, he now positively writes, 
that they 7nay adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, 
and thus introduces this' admirable epitome of Christian 
faith and practice. For the favour of God, which bring eth 
salvation to all conditions of men, that is, the Gospel, has 
appeared, teaching, that denying ungodliness and toorldly 
desires, we should live with sobriety, justice, and piety, 
waiting for the glorious manifestation of Jesus Christ, our 
great God and Saviour, who gave himself for us, that he 
might redeem us from our slavery to sin, and purify us 
to himself as a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 
Among the duties enjoined are, obedience to magistrates; 
and he gives a melancholy description of the wickedness 
of unregenerate men, which brings in another valuable 
epitome of Christianity, the effects of whicii he con- 
trasts with those of depraved nature, for the philanthropy 
of God appeared in saving such hateful beings; for not 
by any righteousness of our own, but according to his 
mercy he saved us, through the bath of regeneration, and 
renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he has poured out upon 
us richly, through our Saviour, that being justified by his 

190 TITUS. 

favour, ive might be made heirs accord'mg to the hope of 
eternal life. This he calls a faithful saying, and he desires 
Titus to affirm as a consequence of it, that they who have 
believed in God should he careful to maintain good works. 
These he declares to be good and profitable ; and concludes 
with charging him to avoid as vain and unprofitable, foolish 
questions and strivings about the Law. 

He expects him to come to him at Nicopolis, where he 
intends to winter. The name meaning the city of victor)-, 
was common to several. Paul probably intended the one 
founded by Augustus, near Actium, to commemorate the 
battle which made him master of the Roman empire, and 
which the Apostle might have visited before he wrote to 
the Romans, that he had fully preached round about unto 

" Romans xv. 19. 



The first Epistle to Timothy is supposed by a great 
majority of critics to have been written after Paul's com- 
pulsory retreat from Ephesus, in consequence of the riot; 
while some of the moderns, as Macknight and Paley, date 
it in the interval between his two imprisonments. I prefer 
the earlier date, as better suiting the admonition. Let no 
man despise thy youth^; and the instructions respecting the 
qualifications for the ministers of religion are more ap- 
propriate to an infant Church, than to one which had been 
founded several years. 

Grace and peace from God the Father, and from the 
Lord Jesus Christ, is Paul's ordinary salutation, but in the 
Epistles to Timothy and Titus, he adds mercy. They may 
be regarded as inspired episcopal charges, and peculiarly 
deserve the study of the Clergy, who will observe the 
earnestness with which he impresses upon his beloved con- 
vert, whom he designates as his own son in the faith ^, the 
practical nature of religion, its end being love out of a pure 
heart, and a good conscience, and unfeigned faith '. He desires 
him to caution the Ephesian teachers against /a&fc* and end- 
less genealogies, which do not tend to edification. The 
context shows, that these were not those of the Gnostics, 

- 1 Tim. iv. 12 '■ 1 Tiin. i. 2. •= I Tim. i 5. 


then only in the bud, as some suppose, but of the Jews, for 
he adds, The Law is good, if a man use it lawfully , for it is 
not made for the righteous man, who is a law unto himself, 
but for notorious offenders, several of whom he enumerates, 
intermixing with criminals, sinners, such as whoremongers 
and liars, not amenable to human courts, and also whatever 
is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious 
Gospel committed to Ms trust. And here gratitude con- 
strains him to digress to express his thankfulness, that such 
a sinner as himself, a reviler and a persecutor, had not only 
been pardoned, but had through abounding favour been put 
into the ministry. The only extenuation he suggests of his 
guilt is, that it was a sin of ignorance. He generalizes his 
case into the weighty aphorism, that it is a faithful saying, 
worthy of being received by all, that Christ Jesus came into 
the ivorld to save sinners, of whom he declares himself to be 
the first^, that he might be the pattern to future believers 
of the Saviour's long suffering, patient endurance ; and he 
bursts forth into a doxology to the only zvise God, the in- 
corruptible, divisible King of ages. 

He begins with admonishing Timothy not to frustrate 
the prophecies which had preceded his ordination, but to 
war a good warfare, maintaining the faith and a good con- 
science, which some (specifying Alexander and Hymenaeus) 
having put away, have made shipwreck of the faith. He 
desires that prayer should be offered up for all men, especially 
for sovereigns and all in authority, that their subjects might 
lead peaceable lives in piety and virtue; and assigns as a rea- 
son, that there is only one God, who desires the salvation of 
all, and only one Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave 
himself a ransom for all. As the suitable appearance and 
behaviour of the whole congregation was important to the 

<• irpwTos, rendered here both chipfanA first, may mean first in degree or 
in time, and T prefer the latter sense. 


credit of their religion, he desires that the women should 
adorn themselves with modest apparel, preferring, as women 
professing- godliness, modesty, sobriety, and good works, to 
broidered hair, gold, pearls, or costly array. He forbids 
their teaching in public, and so usurping authority over 
man, whose superiority he shows from his priority of creation, 
and from the deception by the tempter, not of Adam, but 
of Eve; but he comforts the sex by the assurance, that if 
they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with sobriety, they 
shall obtain eternal salvation "^ through childbearing'', the 
suffering and danger of which was the penalty of their first 
mother's sin. 

As Timothy had to ordain presbyters or elders, Paul 
specifies their qualifications, which are the same as those in 
his Epistle to Titus. In both, the Presbyter is required to 
be the husband of one wife. This is a phrase of difficult 
interpretation, for it hardly conveys the popular notion that 
it prohibits second marriages, which were certainly very 
early regarded as unbecoming, if not unlawful, in the 
Church, though left an open question by the Bible. The 
obvious sense is, he should not be a polygamist ; but 
polygamy, except among the Jews, did not prevail in the 
Romanempire; and I prefer the ancient interpretation, that no 
second wife should have a moral claim upon him, as divorced, 
without the sole adequate reason, adultery. It is surprising, 
that in contradiction to this text, the Church of Rome pre- 
sumes to forbid marriage to the Clergy, which, by a rigidinter- 
pretation, the Greek Church pronounces in the parochial 
Ministers indispensable, though it inconsistently selects the 

* The sense of temporal salvation, though supported by Locke and 
Whitby, does not appear to me to be tenable. 

^ The mention of Eve, and the insertion of the Article before childbearing, 
rris reKvoyovias, induced some of the early commentators to refer the text to 
the birth of the promised Deliverer; and they are followed by Macknight 
and others. 


prelates from monks. They must rule well their own house, 
and have their children obedient. They must not be new 
converts, lest, being lifted up with pride, they should sin 
like the devil; and they ought to be respected by their 
heathen neighbours, lest they should fall into reproach, and 
the snare of the devil. Vigilance, sobriety, order, hospi- 
tality, and aptness to teach, might be expected ; but we are 
astonished that ministers are expected not to be given to 
wine, not strikers, not hraiolers, for such persons we should 
hardly expect would be found even among private Chris- 
tians ; but the manners of the age w^ere coarse, for even the 
aged women of Crete^ are admonished not to be given to 
much wine; and St. Peter writes s, as if it were common for 
masters to buffet their servants. Not greedy of filthy lucre, 
meaning not simply covetous, which follows, but one who 
carries on some discreditable trade. The qualifications for 
Deacons are similar, and he intimates that those who had 
filled the office faithfully, ought to be promoted to the 
higher one of Elder. He adds, that women should he grave, 
not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. The word is am- 
biguous, and means, it is supposed by many, in this con- 
nection, deaconesses ; for if we render it wives, it seems 
strange that those of the presbyters should have been 
altogether overlooked. 

He gives Timothy these instructions, that he may know 
how to act in the congregation of the living God, which he 
calls the pillar and foundation of the Truth. He declares, that 
confessedly great is the secret (now revealed) of godliness. The 
doctrine of the incarnate T)e'ny, justified by (the operations 
of) the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the Gentiles, 
believed on in the world, and received up into glory. It 
occurs to him that the truth would not be received by all, 
for the Spirit expressly declares, that in the latter days 
there would be apostates from the faith, who would speak 
' Titus ii. 3. s^ 1 Peter ii. 20. 


lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences cauterised, forbid- 
ding to marry, and commanding to abstain' from meats zvhich 
God had commanded to be thankfully received, all food 
being good, if sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 
He cautions him to avoid profane and old zvives' fables, 
and to practise in preference to asceticism, which profiteth 
but little, godliness, which is profitable unto all things, 
having the promise both of the present and of the future 
life. To render his ministry successful, he exhorts him to 
maintain such sanctity and purity of manners, as would not 
only secure him from the contempt to which his youth 
would otherwise expose him, but render him a worthy 
example to the flock; and with this view he charges him till 
his own return to attend to reading^, to exhortation, to 
teaching, and to give himself wholly to his duties, in doing 
which he will save both himself and those who hear him. 
He admonishes him to reprove with gentleness the aged as 
a father, the young as a brother, and gives instructions with 
respect to such widows as subsisted on the bounty of the 
congregation. To guard against abuse, none are to be 
admitted on the list under sixty years of age, and young 
ones are to be refused, because they will resist the restraints 
which it is expedient to impose upon them, and marry, and 
so incapacitate themselves for their office, and incur con- 
demnation by breaking their engagements ; and while on the 
list, they will become idle, loandering from house to house, 
and not only so, but tattlers and busy bodies. In oi'der to 
give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully of 
religion, he wishes them to marry, and superintend their 
families. Though these are the regulations for an office that 
has passed away, they are still useful in their spirit. They 
show, that the Apostle did not favour the association of 
young females for works of active charity, and much less that 

'' This from the contest appears to be reading the Scriptures in the 


he would have countenanced those for meditation and prayer, 
like nunneries. He would not even admit aged widows upon 
the list, unless destitute of friends, for he expected that their 
children ox grandchildren\ if they had any, should maintain 
them ; and those who neglected so obvious an obligation he 
regards as practically renouncing their religion, and as 
worse than the heathen, who, generally speaking, fulfilled 
these relative duties. These widows must be ivell reported 
of for good works, in which they were still to be employed, 
as far as they were able. From the relief of the poor, he 
proceeds to the maintenance of the Ministry, and re- 
commends a double alUnoance to those who preside well, 
especially if their department be teaching and preaching, 
and justifies their support at the public expense, both from 
the Old and the New Testament. The first is an inference 
from the oxJ being unmuzzled, so that he might eat of the 
corn which he trod out, an inference which he suggested 
to the Corinthians''; the second is a saying of our Lord, the 
labourer is worthy of hire, which seems to have been 
already recorded in the Gospel ^ He charges Timothy in 
the most solemn manner to an impartial discharge of his 
office, and to ordain none suddenly and rashly, lest he 
should share in the responsibility of their neglect of duty. 
The sins of some men, he observes, are manifest, as well as 
their good works, but others can only be detected by a 
diligent and careful examination. Drink no longer water 
alone, but use a little wine with it. on account of his 
frequent complaints, is a private injunction, supposed to 
have been originally a marginal note, introduced by an 
early transcriber into the context, which it interrupts. 
But though personal, it is of no private interpretation, 
and is still most valuable. Benson speaks slightingly of it ; 
but Macknight justly remarks, that it was inserted in an 

i "Znyova, not nepltrinn in tlie modern sense. 

J Deut. XXV. 1. "1 Cor. ix. 9. ' Luke x. 8. 


inspired writing, to condemn the superstition of those who 
abstain from fermented liquors out of a notion of superior 
sanctity. We may in our day take it as an apostolic 
warning against those, who consider total abstinence as 
a duty, showing that no more is required than a temperate 
use of the food and liquoi's which God enables man to provide. 
Wine indeed our Lord has consecrated, as the emblem of 
his blood shed for us ; and this solemn appropriation of the 
product of the vine in his Supper ought to teach his people 
moderation in the use, as a wholesome refreshment, of what 
has been too frequently made to minister to sin, and degraded 
rational beings below the brute. Timothy, we may suppose, 
had some tendency towards an excessive abstemiousness, 
which his spiritual father would discourage ; but such as 
would abuse the advice should recollect, that tlie liquor which 
Timothy would drink is not so strong as beer, and that it was 
the ancient custom to dilute wine more or less with water. 
Believers under the yoke, that is, slaves become the Lord's 
freed men, had strong temptation to abuse the liberty with 
which he had made them free. This he checks by hinting, 
that disrespectful behaviour would cause their God and their 
religion to be reviled; he therefore enjoins them to regard 
their masters as worthy of all honour, and should the}' 
be believers, not to fail in proper submission, but to serve 
them, on the contrary, with the more assiduity, as partaking 
with them of so great a benefit as Christianity. He 
cautions Timothy to turn aside from teachers, who instead 
of the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the 
doctrine of godliness, have a morbid taste for unprofitable 
questions and verbal disputations, which engender railings 
and evil surmisings, and originate in the desire of 
gain. And he corrects them by saying, that godliness, if 
accompanied by contentment, is properly speaking gain; 
and as man wants little here below, we should be content 
if we have food and raiment; warned by the example of 


those who, being determined to be rich, fall into temptation, 
and into the gratification of desires, tohich plunge them into 
perdition ; for the love of money is the root of all evil, and 
some by coveting it have pierced themselves through with 
viany sorrows, and have even erred from the faith. But 
thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after 
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. I charge 
thee before God, who giveth life to all things, and before 
Christ Jesus, who in the presence of the Roman Governor 
witnessed a good confession, that thou keep the command- 
ment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, tohich he shall in the apipobited time show, 
who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and 
Lord of lords ; the sole possessor of immortality, dwelling in 
unapproachable light, unseen, and incapable of being seen. 
The temptations of the rich had dwelt upon the Apostle's 
mind, and therefore he returns to the subject in a postscript, 
charging them not to be puffed up, nor to trust in fleeting 
riches, but in the Uviiig God, who giveth these and all other 
gifts to us richly for enjoyment; and points out the true use 
of riches, viz. to enable their possessors to be rich in good 
works, whereby they shall lay up for themselves a good found- 
ation, that they may lay hold on eternal life, (by lending 
them to the Lord.) 

I have observed, that the Pauline Epistles contain many 
weighty aphorisms, epitomes of faith and duty, which may 
be detached from the context, and treasured up in the 
memory. In these personal Epistles our attention is often 
drawn to them by this notice, This is a faithful saying, 
which generally precedes, but sometimes follows, the apho- 
rism. As in this Epistle, This is a faithful saying, that 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save siyiners"'. And in 
that to Titus, it follows a summary of Christian doctrine ". 

'" 1 Tim. i. 15. n Titus iii. 4—8. 


ST. Paul's third missionary journey. 

The Apostle, after some stay at Antioch, undertook a 
third journey. He travelled in order from Church to 
Church in Galatia, confirming in the faith those who had 
received the Gospel, but seemingly not attemjJting to form 
new congregations, being alone, and desirous of taking up 
a temporary residence at Ephesus, the capital of the Roman 
Proconsular province of Asia. Though the village w^hich 
now marks its site is at some distance from the sea, it was 
then the most flourishing port of Asia ; and its celebrity, 
which was of ancient date, arose out of the temple of 
Artemis, more familiar to the general reader under the 
Roman name Diana, which was regarded as a wonder of the 
world, and was one of the largest and most beautiful 
specimens of Ionic architecture. It is no more than a 
confused heap of ruins, but we may read a description of 
it in Pliny a, and its front may be seen on the imperial coins. 
Medals of it were formed to be sold to the worshippers 
of this great goddess ,• and it seems that not superstition, but 
mercenary motives, raised the tumult against those who 
said, that those loere no gods that were made with hands. 
The sanctity of the temple rendered it a safe bank of 
deposit, and in the earliest times at least, religion was 
strengthened by its connection with commerce. The temple 
was under the administration of the Asiarchs^, who bore the 
expenses of the festivals, and were chosen out of the wealthy 
citizens, and inhabitants of the province. The image of 
the goddess is transmitted to us on coins, and even in 
statues; but she is not the swift virgin huntress of the poets, 
whom the sculptor delights to bring before us pursuing 
* Hist. Nat. xvi. 40; xxxvi. 14. Strabo, xiv. "^ Acts xix. 31. 


with a hound a stag, but a strange mysterious being, rolled 
up like a mummy, her body propped up by a pole on 
either side, represented with many breasts, and covered 
with delineations of quadrupeds, birds, insects, and flowers, 
showing that she is the personification of nature "=. At 
Athens, and wherever pliilosophy flourished, the national 
religion was yielding to a philosophy practically atheistic ; 
but Diana seems to have retained her hold on the affections 
of the Ephesians, who had named one of their months after 
her Greek name Artemisium, and gloried in the title of 
Nscaxogos, or Warden of, the goddess, which they stamped 
upon their coins. It was easy, as appears from the 
sequel, to raise a tumult in her honour, but as it has often 
happened since, among the professors of a purer faith, the 
feeling of jealousy for her honour was blended with self- 
interest ; but it is remarkable, that it showed itself not in 
the priests, but in the workmen, who gained their livelihood 
by making silver models of her temple. To understand 
this, we must recollect that the polytheists of Greece and 
Rome had not, like the Egyptians, or the eastern nations 
of our own days, a powerful hierarchy. The distinction of 
clergy and laity was unknown in the Roman Empire ; 
the Romans therefore were at the same time lawyers, 
senators, and ministers of their gods, and the Emperor was 
the supreme PontiflT. In fact, the priest was merged in 
the magistrate, who only valued religion, which he probably 
disbelieved, as an engine of government. 

It appears from the town clerk's speech, that no one 
presumed to doubt that this statue had been sent down 
from Jove; the same tale was told of the statue of Pallas 
at Athens, the shapeless stone which represented Venus at 
Paphos, and we may add, tlie celebrated black stone of 
Mecca ; and we who know that aerolites, as they are called, 

•-■ This image, copied from the Dissertatiou of Menetrius, may be seen in 
the Pictorial Bible. 


fall from heaven, may believe this of stone statues ; but we 
learn from Pliny, that the Diana of Ephesus was made of 

As Athens gloried in philosophy, Ej^hesus may be 
regarded as the chief seat of magical studies, and be- 
came in after times the stronghold of Gnosticism, a system 
which attempted to dignify the mystical philosophy of 
the east by an union with Christianity; and it appears from 
Paul's Epistles to that city, and the neighbouring one of 
Colosse, that this mystery of iniquity was already de- 
veloping. Pretenders to divine wisdom, who resembled 
conjurors more than philosophers, abounded in this and the 
following centuries, such as the author Apnleius ; and 
Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary nearly of our Saviour, 
who is reported to have lived on to a marvellous age, is 
described by his biographer as a worker of miracles ; and 
the later Platonists brought forth his miracles in opposition* 
to those of our Lord. 

During Paul's absence, his friends Aquila and Priscilla 
had rendered considerable service to Christianity, by in- 
structing fully in the truth Apollos, a native of Alexandria, 
who already taught in the synagogue frequently and dili- 
gently what he knew ; but it was no more than what could 
be collected from the preparatory dispensation of the 
Baptist, who announced the approach of the Messiah, and 
the necessity of being qualified for his kingdom by repent- 
ance. His conversion was of the more importance, because 
he was both eloquent and mighty in the Serif tures ; and 
going soon after to Corinth, before Paul's coming, he in a 
degree supplied the Apostle's place there ; for publicly 
proving hy the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, he 

<i We have in his life an extraordinary account of his cruelly turning the 
wrath of the Ephesians, not long after, in the very theatre in which they 
now assembled, against a miserable stranger, whom he persuaded them 
to be a demon, and who was in consequence stoned by them to death. 


mightily convinced the Jews. Paul's testimony to his 
labours seems to put him on the level of the Apostles. 
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, 
and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas". I have planted, and 
Apollos watered. It appears from their sending their salu- 
tations to the Corinthians, that Aquila and Priscilla con- 
tinued in Ephesus while Paul was there. The first act 
of his recorded is the baptism of twelve Jews, who, like 
Apollos, were acquainted only voith the baptism of John, 
and who wlien asked if they had received the Holy Ghost, 
replied, that they were not eveii aware that he had been 
given. It does not appear whether they had actually been 
baptized by the Baptist himself, or subsequently probably 
by Apollos ; for it is not unlikely that this preparatory 
rite might be repeated by his followers, who had passed 
into foreign countries, and had not yet heard of the coming 
of Him, whose efficacious baptism was to supersede that of 
their master. They were baptized, and received afterwards, 
on Paul's laying on his hands, the miraculous gifts of this 
Holy Spirit, of whose energy as well as existence they had 
thereby an experimental conviction. In the first three 
months he frequented the synagogue, but with so little 
success, that he separated the believing part of the congre- 
gation from those that were hardened, and publicly spoke 
evil of the way, and argued daily with all who would come 
to hear him, whether Jew or Gentile, in the school of one 
Tyrannus, a large room which he seems to have hired. 
This he did for two years, working at the same time with 
his own hands to maintain himself and his companions, both 
as an example to his converts, and a proof that he had no 
interested motive in attempting their conversion ; though on 
proper occasions he took care to maintain the right of those 
who communicated spiritual gifts to partake of the temporal 
things of their converts. His teaching was enforced by 
'• 1 Cor. i. 10; iii. (J. 


many special miracles, and he not only personally cured the 
sick and ejected demons, but as power had gone forth from 
the Saviour's cloak to stop the bloody flux of her who 
touched it, so similar effects were supernaturally caused by 
the handkerchiefs and aprons brought from Paul's body, 
as had happened to Peter on the opening of the Gospel 
dispensation ; the two Apostles being thereby put on a 
level as to their gifts. Some of these might be conveyed to 
persons beyond the city, and at all events, the report of 
those miracles would be spread, and if Paul himself did 
not visit the neighbouring towns, their inhabitants would 
resort to him, so that in either way or both, not the 
Ephesians only, but all they loho dioelt in (the proconsular) 
Asia heard the ivord of the Lord Jesus ; and Demetrius, 
when exciting the artificers to riot, exclaims. Moreover ye 
see and hear^ that not alone at Ephesus, hut almost through- 
out all Asia, this Paid hath 'persuaded and turned away 
much people. Among the converts now made, we may 
reasonably include both Philemon f, and his slave Onesi- 
phorus, who was useful to him now, but preeminently so in 
his last confinement at Rome s ; and Epaphras, afterwards 
minister of the Church at Colosse, a town not far from 
Ephesus, in which, as well as Laodicea, (which Paul had 
not then visited,) we hear of flourishing Churches. His 
course of usefulness was much promoted by the attempt of 
seven wandering Jewish exorcists, son of one Sceva, a prin- 
cipal priest, to imitate him in casting out demons, by 
invoking, as he did on such occasions, the name of Jesus. 
Like other cultivators of magic, they probably ascribed a 
mysterious intrinsic virtue to the use of certain names and 
phrases, the possessor of which was enabled to perform 
supernatural actions, either by their natural eflicacy, or by 
subjecting spirits to their wills even against their inclination. 
The result, however, painfully undeceived them ; the evil 
' Philem. 10. « 2 Tim. i. 15. 


spirit called upon exposed the fallacy of tlieir pretended 
science, showing that the name of Jesus was no charm, but 
that the efficacy of the invocation consisted not in the words 
or manner, but in the good pleasure of the Holy Spirit, 
who is not to be commanded, but exerts or withholds iiis 
operation as he seeth fit. Jesus I know as my Muster, and 
Paul I acknowledge as his mijiister, hut ivho are ye ? and so 
saying, the demoniac lept upon them, so that they were 
glad to make their escape out of the house wounded, and 
with the loss of some of their clothing in the struggle. 
Their complete failure and disgrace demonstrated the vanity 
of both white and black magic, as it was afterwards called, 
and that to a city which pursued the study of it with so 
much ardour, that certain words or letters, supposed to be 
efficacious in incantations for the expulsion of deinons or 
charms against diseases, were called the Ej^hesian Letters. 
It showed also that Christian miracles are the work of a 
superior Agent ; for a demon's yielding to the Apostle's 
command, proved his power to be greater than that of 
the exorcists. The consequence was, that fear fell upon all, 
and many who, though converted, had still practised these 
over curious arts, convinced not merely of their vanity, but 
of their sinfulness, confessed their deeds, and showed their 
abhorrence of their former studies, by bringing their books, 
and burning them in public. Persons less in earnest would 
have sold them to those who had not the same scruples; but 
these converts, actuated by Christian love, were determined 
not to be accessory to the guilt and injury of others ; their 
own pecuniary interest, when the salvation of men might 
come into competition with it, did not enter into consider- 
ation, their only thought was, how to arrest the progress of 
an evil from which they had themselves escaped ; and in an 
age anterior to the discovery of printing, when books must 
have been expensive and copies were slowly multiplied, this 
profane and pernicious study would sustain an injury which 


could only be repaired by degrees and with much cost. 
Before, however, they committed their volumes to the flames, 
they calculated their value, and found it to be 50,000 pieces 
of silver^. The sacrifice of such a sum attests their sincerity. 
Luke, therefore, with peculiar propriety, follows it up with 
the remark. So inightily greio the word of God, and pre- 

'' A sum, assuming tliem tobe drachmas, (valued atSjd. each,) equivalent 
to £1770. 



The Epistles to the Corinthians have a peculiar interest, 
since from circumstances they give us a fuller insight than 
the others into the actual state of a primitive Church, and 
into the personal history and feelings of the writer. 

Its condition was less satisfactory than we should have 
imagined, for the miraculous gifts with which it abounded 
were not sanctified by grace, and consequently instead of 
being used for edification, they were exhibited for display. 
Their withdrawal then is not to be lamented, since such 
gifts, without the cooperation of the ordinary yet more 
precious though unobserved influence of the holy and 
hallowing Spirit, enjoyed by true believers, can no more 
preserve a Church in a healthy state, than the talents and 
attainments, as genius, learning, and eloquence, their sub- 
stitutes, in after ages. 

The Corinthians could boast of having for their spiritual 
father the Apostle of the Gentiles ; and had the advantage 
then both of their gifts, and of his teaching. The Romans 
enjoyed neither, yet having received (we know not from 
whom) the truth in the love of it, their faith was spoken 
of throughout the empire ; while the Corinthians, pufied up 
with these attainments, on Paul's departure split into 
factions, which strove to depreciate him. Error in doctrine 
was accompanied with laxity in practice. 


At this period, the Apostle according to promise returned 
from Jerusalem to Ephesus% and during his long residence 
there, Sosthenes, the former ruler of the Synagogue, and 
some of Chloe's family arriving from Corinth, informed him 
of their factions, and of the disorderly conduct of several 
of the brethren. An immediate remedy being required, 
he sent his beloved Timothy and Erastus, the treasurer 
of the city, to apprise them that he was coming to increase 
the spiritual gifts of those who adhered to him'', and 
to punish by his supernatural authority the disobedient". 
Before he could act upon this determination, his adherents 
dispatched to him Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, 
with a letter, in which they assured him of their attachment, 
and solicited his instructions in mattei's which had occa- 
sioned much debate. This application from the sound 
members of the Church, enabled him in reply to correct 
the abuses, both of doctrine and practice, which had grown 
up there, chiefly through the teaching of a false Apostle, 
and so to spare them and himself the coming to chastise 
those whom he wished to be able to comfort. Some think 
that the expression, / wrote to you in the Epistle^ not to 
keep covipany with fornicators, refers to a letter which he 
had begun to write upon this information ; but now on 
receiving this with so many queries in it, laid aside, and 
began instead the one which we still possess under the name 
of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. Those who main- 
tain that none of his writings have perished, refer the phrase 
to the preceding verses. Apollos also had joined him, 
whom Paul wished to return with the Corinthian messengers; 
but this he declined, fearing no doubt that in the present 
state of that Church he should be set up by some faction as 
a rival of the Apostle. Their arrival, and the prospect 
of extraordinary success at Ephesus, where a great a7id 

« Acfs xviii. >> 2 Cor. i. 1.5. 

« 1 Cor. iv. 18. •• 1 Cor. V. 9. 


effectual door had been opened, induced him to postpone 
his journey till after Pentecost. The Epistle therefore 
must have been written before the riot which forced him to 
an abrupt departure, and it is conjectured a little before 
the Passover, from its allusion to unleavened bread. To 
give it more weight, he sent it, not by these messengers, but 
by Titus^, and it produced the effect which it desired. 
They expressed their regret after a godly sort, and cleared 
themselves as a body*'. In consequence, how^ever, of his 
hasty retreat from Ephesus, this intelligence did not reach 
him till he w-as in Macedonia, where he waited for Titus. 
The salutations of the Churches of Asia, and of Aquila 
and Priscilla, whom we know to have been then at Ephesus, 
and his own \vords, prove it to have been written from that 
city. The subscription, which is of no authority, dates it 
from Philippi, but this mistake might have arisen from 
translating ^isg^ojxut, I am passing , instead of, I shall (intend 
to) pass, through Macedonias. Sostlienes, whose name he 
joins with his own, is thought to be the ruler of the syna- 
gogue'^, who had formerly been active in persecuting him, 
and if he were, his name after his conversion would give 
additional weight to his own authority. 

The Epistle divides into two parts the condemnation 
of the prevalent abuses, 1. schism, 2. incest, 3. the re- 
course to the heathen tribunals, 4. and fornication: and 
answers to their inquiries. In speaking of these divisions, 
the writer observes, Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, 
and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided F 
was Paul crucified for you ? or icere ye bajjtized into the 
name of Paul '^? "It has been thought with probability," 
says Scott, " that the Apostle does not mention these names 
as really the heads of the parties into which the Corinthians 
had divided, but in order to mark more emphatically the evil 

« 1 Cor. xvi. 17. 2 Cor. vii. * 2 Cor. vii. 

e 1 Cor. xvi. 5. ^ Acts xviii. ' 1 Cor. i. 12. 


of the thing itself, and the absurdity of dividing the Church, 
out of a disposition inordinately to magnify some particular 
teacher, or to despise faithful ministers, under a pretence 
of honouring Christ. However respectable the names, the 
thing itself was indefensible, and it would give less umbrage 
to mention himself, ApoUos, and Cephas, than to name the 
false teachers that were the authors of the discord." A 
preference might be urged of Apollos for his eloquence, 
and of Peter as the Apostle of the Circumcision. The 
opinion originated with the Greek commentators, and to 
me appears far-fetched, and was probabl}^ suggested by a 
subsequent passage, these things I have in a figure trans- 
ferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes, that ye 
might learn in us not to think of men above that ivhich 
is written^. Whitby, I think, satisfactorily refutes it, by 
observing, that upon that supposition Paul would not have 
thanked God that he baptized so few of them, nor would 
he have said. All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, 
or Cephas^. 

No Epistle is so full of local matters ; yet, as if it 
were to show that all Scripture is designed indirectly for 
the benefit of all believers, it is addressed not exclusively 
to the Corinthians, but to all ivho in every place call upon 
the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all; so that Chrysostom 
calls it a Catholic Epistle. And here I would observe, that 
the Apostle's definition of believers, (which the Acts show 
to be their own appellation of themselves,) teaches us that 
the worship of their Lord was their characteristic. We may 
be assured that it was from no carelessness in writing, but 
from deliberate choice, or from a full heart, that the name 
of the anointed Saviour, "so sweet in a believer's ear," occurs 
more frequently than a critical taste may approve, in the 
opening of both the Epistles to the Corinthians. 

Paul opens the first with expressing his thankfulness 
' 1 Cor. iv. 6. k 1 Cor. iii. 22. 



that they came behind in no spiritual gift, waiting for 
the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, ivho will also confirm 
them unto the end, that they may he blameless in the day 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. His design is to press upon them 
his great object, that there should be no schism, but that 
they might be joined together in the same mind, and in the 
same judgment. Commentators remark, that he thus pre- 
pares them for a favourable reception of his reproof: 
yet we cannot suppose that he praises them at the expense 
of truth; and therefore I presume that the censure was 
designed for the minority. He reproves this setting up 
one teacher in opposition to another as carnal; and shows 
the absurdity of magnifying those who ought to be re- 
garded only as the Lord's servants, through whom they 
believed ; for they owed no allegiance even to him, though 
their spiritual father, since he had not been crucified for 
them, and they had not been baptized into his name. One 
cause of these divisions was their estimate of eloquence 
and philosophy ; he therefore shows it was erroneous, since 
human genius could not discover, nor the natural man, 
whatever might be his intellectual sagacity, even receive, 
religious truth, which God had revealed through his Spirit ; 
and that his own success in preaching was not owing to 
these endowments, for he had not come to them with the 
enticing words of mans loisdoni or excellency of speech, 
that the wisdom of the world might be confounded by the 
foolishness (as they deemed it) of preaching. Such he 
allows it to be in the judgment of them who perish, but 
unto the saved it is the power of God; and he accommodates 
to his purpose the words of Isaiah', I will bring to nought the 
understanding of the jjrudent, as it is through the preaching of 
the cross that it pleases God to save those that believe. The 
Jews dema7id a miracle as evidence, while the Greeks seek 
after wisdom ; but the subject of our preaching is Christ 
Isaiah xxix. 14. 


crucified, to the first a stumbling -hloch, to the second 
foolishness, but to the called of both, (what they both profess 
to seek,) the wisdom of God, and the 'poioer of God. He 
appeals to their own knowledge of the fact, that their call- 
ing^ did not comprehend many of the worldly wise, the 
■powerful, or the noble, but that God had chosen, what the 
world deemed foolish, to confound the tvise, what the world 
deemed weak, to confound the mighty, and the base, the 
despised, and those who were esteemed as nought, to bring 
to nought the things that are ; that he who gloried should, 
as Jeremiah'' says, not glory in man, but in Jehovah, who 
had made Christ Jesus to believers wisdom, righteousness, 
sanctification, and redemption. So Paul had made known 
unto them only Jesus Christ and him crucified, that their faith 
might stand not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of 
God. He guards this confession from misconception, by 
adding, that among the 'perfect, (that is, those able to bear it, 
for others were as babes, ivho must be fed with milk,) he 
does speak wisdom, not the ivisdom of the world, but the 
hidden wisdom of God, for the natural man cannot receive 
it, because it must be spiritually discerned, and God has 
revealed it unto us through his Spirit^. In the course 
of this expostulation, he warns them not to overrate their 
teachers, who were no more than labourers in God's field; he 
himself had planted, Apollos had watered, but the harvest 
came from God. He then changes the figure, and describes 
himself as a wise master-builder, who had laid the only 
foundation, Jesus Christ. Ujion this foundation, however, 
builders might erect different structures; a palace of marble, 
adorned with silver or gold and costly stones ; or a cottage 
of wood, thatched with hay and stubble, the value of which 

J Here is a remarkable ellipsis; rt?e called, as it is filled up by our 
translators, refers it to the taught. Macknigbt and other critics render it 
call you, thinking that it better suits the context to apply it to the teachers, 
but I prefer the sense which I have expressed above. 

^ Jeremiah ix. 24, ' 1 Cor. ii. iii. 


the fire of the last day would test. So the teacher, who 
deduced such doctrine from the Gospel as built up the 
believer in the faith, would receive the reward he merited ; 
while he who had taught (not fundamental error, but) 
imperfect knowledge, and had spent his time and strength 
to little purpose, would be mulcted of the reward of 
his labours ; yet if he meant well, should himself through 
mercy be saved, yet with extreme" difficulty, as through 
a fire. He ends with saying, that they ought not to 
glory in man, for their teachers, and all things, whether 
life or death, if they were Christ's, were meant to be 
subservient to them. Having called their teachers Christ's 
servants, and dispensers of his secrets, he intimates the 
duty of faithfulness in such an office, and, referring to 
himself, leaves the judgment of his faithfulness to his 
Master, though his own conscience does not accuse him, 
briefly and delicately alluding to his privations, hardships, 
and disinterested working for his own maintenance ; and 
reminding them, that as their spiritual father he ought to 
be more valued by them than ten thousand teachers ; and 
he concludes this introduction, with declaring how much 
more agreeable it was to him to come to them in the spirit 
of meekness and love, than with a rod. 

He now descends to particulars, and sharply reproves them 
for bearing with a member of the Church, who was guilty 
of such licentiousness as was condemned by the heathen, and, 
as it wei-c, never practised among them. His offence was, liis 
living with his stepmother, whom he seems to have married, 
and must therefore have been divorced, for his father was 
alive". He requires them formally, in the name of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, to deliver the offender unto Satan. This was 

™ It is disputed whether this superstructure refers to the doctrines or the 
persons taught, but on either supposition it seems to me to convey essentially 
the same meaning. The Roman Catholics are glad to find in some of the 
Fathers authority for transferring it to persons suffering in Purgatory. 

" 2 Cor. vii. 12. 


excommunication; but the language shows that it was more, 
and that the decree (the Apostle being present with them in 
spirit though absent) conveyed with it some malady, which 
Paul had the authority to inflict; for he adds, for the 
destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved. 
The reformation of the offender being his object, no less 
than the removal of scandal, and the edification of the 
Church. He admonishes them, that under such circum- 
stances they ought not to be puffed up, but mourn; and 
reminds them of the consequence of bad example, since a 
little leaven leaveneth the whole mass; and as Clirist was 
their Paschal Lamb, they ought to keep the approaching 
feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but 
with the becoming qualities of integrity and truth. He 
then reminds them, that he had already written, that they 
should not associate with any brother who was in any respect 
a notorious sinner, as a fornicator, a railer, a drunkard, or 
extortioner p. It is remarkable, that he is less strict as to 
their associating with offenders who do not profess the faith ; 
and the reason is, such a separation would be impracticable, 
because then they could have no intercourse with any ; a 
distinction that depicts in a word the state of moi'als at 
Corinth. He adds, that he has no commission to judge 
those beyond the pale, whom he leaves to the judgment of 
God. The woman was, we presume, a heathen, there being 
no instructions respecting her. 

He next condemns their litigious spirit, which caused 
them who were hereafter to judge the world to sue 
their brethren before the heathen courts. If they must 
go to law, let them appoint judges of their own, even 
the persons least esteemed among them, (if they had none 

p In the list we have two classes of sinners, which create some per- 
plexit}'; the covetous, whom it is difficult to notice, because not guilty of a 
positive act, but only of vice, which admits of degree, and the idolater, 
which seems incomp.itihle with the profession of the faith. 


tvise and able,) as preferable ; but he recommends them 
rather to take wrong, and to suffer themselves to be de- 
frauded. But soiue of them were so far from showing this 
yielding- disposition, that they were not only tenacious of 
their right, but were even guilty of defrauding their 

He now returns to his former subject, charging them to 
flee fornication, to which Corinth, under the patronage of 
Venus, was preeminently addicted, and which heathen 
moralists seem hardly to have regarded as a sin. Yet the 
practice of this and other ofiences regarded as venial, are 
here declared by the inspired teacher to exclude from the 
kingdom of God. Still, such sinners, if repentant, will be 
accepted ; for he adds, such were some of you; but ye are 
washed (in baptism) by the Spirit of our God, and ye are 
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus. Fornication he 
condemns as injurious to the body, and incompatible with 
the profession of a Christian, his body being a temple of the 
Holy Ghost, and the purchased property of God. 

The remainder of the Epistle is an answer to their en- 
quiries, and affords him an occasion for general and permanent 
instruction on, 1. Matrimony, 2. on Food sacrificed to idols, 
3. the proper mode of celebrating the Lord's Supper, 4. on 
the nature and use of spiritual gifts, and, 5. on the Resur- 

St. Paul first speaks both of married and single persons ; 
and carefully distinguishes between the command of the 
Lord and his own judgment, as that of one who through the 
mercy of the Lord is faithful. The Church of Rome 
avails herself of his^ language, to exalt celibacy as merito- 
rious, encourages even vows of chastity in both sexes, 
and has long prohibited the marriage of the clergy. If the 
too common custom of arguing from verses detached 
from the context be admitted, we might adopt this con- 
clusion; yet, while Paul recommends widows and unmarried 


men to remain as they are, he expressly declares, that they 
are at liberty to marry, and under certain circumstances 
ought. He also states, that if the single marry, they do 
not sin, but he forewarns them that they shall have trouble, 
and gives as a reason for celibacy the -present distress. Yet 
in this very Epistle he claims the right, exercised as he 
implies by other Apostles, not only to have a wife, but to 
have her maintained by his converts -i. In his first Epistle 
to Timothy, he enumerates the forbidding of marriage, as 
one of the doctrines of those who will apostatize in the 
latter times'"; and the Epistle to the Hebrews declares a 
virtuous married life to be honourable in all ^ Speaking 
not by command, he permits Christians to live with heathen 
wives and husbands, but if the unbelieving party breaks off 
the connection, in such a case, a brother or sister is not iti 
bondage, so as to seek reconciliation at the expense of 
religion. Widows he allows to form another marriage, 
but it must be in the Lord, that is, to a Christian. As the 
time is short, and the fashion of the world passes away, 
he recommends every man to continue in the same state in 
which he was called, as the circumcised and uncircumcised, 
the married and the single. He treats liberty and servitude 
as indifferent, the conwexted freeman being Christ's slave, and 
the converted slave the Lord's freedman; yet freedom* if it 
may be had, is preferable. 

The Coi-inthian believers were in the habit of partaking 
in the idol temples of the feasts with their unconverted 
countrymen on food offered in sacrifice. Some weak be- 
lievers were scandalized ; the others justified themselves, 
because a heathen deity had no existence. This Paul 

1 1 Cor. ix. 5. I- 1 Tim. iv. 3. « Heb. xiii. 4. 

' I have given the ordinary interpretation ; but I must confess, that the 
contrary one, which is supported by Chrysostom and other Greek com- 
mentators, is more in harmony with the context, and seems to be the 
correct translation. 


admits ; but as this eating does not recommend the eater to 
God, he determines, that if he persevere, he will be a 
stumbling block to his weak brother, for whom also Christ 
died, and in sinning against him, he will sin against Christ. 
The language is most emphatic, as Theophylact observes ; 
he does not say, if my brother take reasonable cause of 
offence, but any cause ; and not only I will not eat meat 
offered, but any meat, and not for a day or two, but for 
the whole of life. The Apostle generalizes the maxim in 
harmony with a similar passage which occurs afterwards in 
the same connection, whether we eat or drink, or tvhatever 
we do, let us do all to the glory of GodK 

He asserts his dignity as an Aj)ostle, for he too has seen 
the Lord, and calls them his work in the Lord as the seal of 
his Apostleship. He argues both from equity, and from 
the Law, that the Christian minister is entitled to main- 
tenance from his congregation, while he declares his own 
determination to proclaim the Gospel gratuitously, lest he 
should hinder its progress, and so lose his reward. He de- 
clares, that he had made himself all things to all men, that he 
might hy all means save some; accommodating himself, as 
far as his conscience allowed him, to the prejudices both of 
Gentiles and of Jews. He ends with admonishing them, 
after his example, to press forward, without deviating from 
the course, in the race that was set before them ; not like 
their countrymen, for the withering Isthmian wreath, but 
for an enduring one which fadeth not away. And changing 
the metaphor for that of the pugilist, he says, he fights not 
like one who heats the air, instead of directing his blows 
at the right object, but keeps his body under subjection, 
lest having proclaimed the Gospel to others, he should be 
himself rejected hy the Judge; thus delicately hinting to 
them, that in striving for the mastery, they ought to have 
tlie seU'-rcstraint in which they were so deficient. 
' 1 Cor. X. 31. 


He warns them of their danger, from the history of God's 
ancient people, with whom He was not well pleased during 
their wandering in the wilderness, when they fell into the 
sins (then closely connected) of idolatry and fornication, 
though in passing through the Red Sea they had been bap- 
tize i into the Mosaic dispensation, and had been afterwards 
sustained by spiritual food. And he adds, that these events 
were types, that is examples, unto them. He cautions them 
against over-confidence, let him who thinketh he standeth, he 
careful lest he fall; and yet he would not have them dis- 
heartened, for God is faithful, and will not suffer them to he 
tempted heyond their strength. He enjoins them to flee 
from all approximation to idolatry, such as partaking of idol 
feasts, which would at least be construed into a toleration of it 
as a matter of indifference, though it be really an association 
in the worship of the god so honoured, and this position he 
illustrates by the example of the Jewish altar, and of the 
Lord's table. In consequence of the extraordinary and 
injurious heresy on the subject of the Church of Rome, the 
Holy Communion occupies a more prominent and important 
position in modern theology than in scriptural or even 
patristic ; for this is the only explanatory passage in the 
Epistles, and it has never, like Baptism, been named in any 
of the ancient Creeds. Certainly, this Article of Faith has 
undergone a marvellous change. In the Church of our 
ancestors, instead of the congregation being all partakers of 
one loaf, it became the custom at morning worship to be taken 
by the priest aloue, who taught that the benefit of it was en- 
joyed by the spectators, but not by them only, but also by the 
absent faithful, even if they were dead. Though a supper, the 
Roman Catholics take it fasting ; and we retain their practice, 
of eating it in the morning ; yet our Lord instituted it at 
night, and after another commemorative supper. Con- 
sequently, it was from the beginning connected with a 
substantial meal, which in some places preceded, in others 


followed it, and acquired the name of Aya7r>j, Love Feast, which 
from its liability to abuse was condemned by the local Council 
of Laodicea, and was ultimately abolished. At Corinth, in 
the Apostle's time, thovigh they assembled for the purpose 
in one place, they came not in one spirit, for there were 
divisions among them. It was usual at the Grecian public 
entertainments for diiferent members to bring their con- 
tributions to the common feast : and because the poor 
brought little and the rich indulged to excess, one was 
hungry and another drunken. He charges them to tarry 
for one another, and if any man hunger, to eat at home, 
that they might not come under condemnation. This con- 
demnation is clearly of a temporal nature, as he says, for 
this cause many are weak and sickly, and many sleep. He 
requires a man to examine himself, as to discerning in this 
feast the Lord's body, that is, as distinguishing it from a 
common meal, an error into which the mode of administering 
it in the Church of England, renders it impossible for its 
members to fall. It will be edifying sometimes to extend 
this examination to our state of belief and disposition ; but 
certainly this passage gives no countenance to the elaborate 
and superstitious weekly preparation recommended in many 
devotional works, which undertake to make the readers 
worthy communicants. The importance of this Sacrament 
appears from its having be6n a special revelation to Paul, 
and he proves its permanence by the observation, Ye do 
shoiv the Jjord's death till He come^. 

The miraculous gifts abundantly enjoyed by the Co- 
rinthians had been sadly abused, and had been exercised 
not for the edification of the congregation, but to gratify 
the vanity and spiritual pride of the possessors. He intro- 
duces the subject with this important announcement, which 
is one of the strongest affirmations of the Trinity : Now 
there are diversities of gifts, hut the same Spirit ; there arc 
' I Cor. xi. 26. 


differences of administration, hut the same Lord; and there 
are diversities of operation, hut it is the same God, who 
worketh all (these gifts) in all persons. He compares the 
Church to the human body, and seems to allude to the two 
Sacraments, when he says, that both Jews and Gentiles, bond 
and free, have been baptized into one body, and made to drink 
into one spirit. He shows the advantage of these several gifts, 
by a comparison with the human frame, which would not 
answer its purpose, if consisting of an eye or ear alone, 
or any single member; but God has so tempered the body 
that there should he no schism, but that all the members 
should sympathize together, and should contribute their 
share to the well-being of the whole*. The Apostle is led 
to specify the gifts bestowed, and their possessors, from 
which we learn, that in this mystical body of Christ, they 
were bestowed generally on different individuals ; and this 
introduced his well-known and justly -admired delineation 
of Love, (called from the Latin version Charity,) the supe- 
riority of which he at once demonstrates, by declaring, that 
possessing them all, — tongues of men and even angels, 
prophecy, mysteries, knowledge, faith, — he would without 
this grace be nothing. Even though he had the semblance 
of it without reality, as shown by giving all his property 
to the poor, or even his body to be burnt as a martyr, 
the highest external evidence of love, the first to man 
the second to God, it would not promote his own 
salvation. He describes the effects of Love, and shows 

t He repeats the illustration in the Epistles to the Romans, xii. 4, 5, 
and the Ephesiaus, iv. 16. The classical reader will recollect the ingenious 
apologue of the same kind, hy which Menenius Agrippa reconciled the 
Roman people to the government of the Senate. Livy ii. 32. A similar 
passage to the same purport occurs in Maximus Tyrius. The whole body is 
in a good state, when every part performs its office in behalf of the whole, 
the feet carry, the hands work, the eyes see, the ears hear; but should we 
have a fable telling us, that the feet or the teeth had quarrelled with 
the rest, and refused any longer to do their office, how rlo we think the 
story would close hut in the death of the man ? 


its superiority by its continuance after these temporary 
gifts had ceased. After their removal, Faith and Hojye 
would coexist with this superior grace, which is superior, 
because a time is coming when faith shall be swallowed 
up in vision, and hope in fruition ; while this from 
its nature will never fail. The Apostle, bearing in mind 
that the test of value is utility, shows, that of these spiritual 
gifts, prophesying or explaining is more to be desired than 
speaking with tongues, for by the first the congregation 
is edified, by the second only the individual ; and he declares 
for his own part, that though he spoke with more tongues 
than they all, he would rather speaJc Jive words that would 
teach others, than ten thousand in an imknown tongue. 
He gives regulations to prevent their interfering with one 
another, and ends with desiring that all tilings may he done 
decently and in order. 

Being about to censure some abuses in their public 
worship, he first conciliates their good will, by praising them 
for keeping the ordinances which he had delivered to them, 
so that we may conclude that he meant his censure to apply 
only to some. The habits of eastern society, which then 
as now separated the sexes more than in Europe, rendered 
female ministers of religion desirable. The province of 
these deaconesses, like that of the original deacons, seems 
to have been primarily of a temporal character, but still 
they had to teach the young, and visit the sick of their own 
sex. Paul tells Timothy", that he suffers not a woman to 
teach, (he must mean in public;) and in this Epistle" he 
writes, let your women keep silence in the church; aiid 
declares it a shame for them to speak. Here, however, he 
reproves them not for praying or prophesying, but for 
performing those functions with the head unveiled, which 
he represents as being as disgraceful as if they had had their 
head shaven, which was imposed as a mark of infamy upon 
women of bad character. This then is the exceptional case 
" 1 Tim. ii. 12. M Cor. xiv. 34. 


of those who were influenced by the Spirit, and therefore 
not under the same restraint as the rest of their sex. He 
argues, that the man should be uncovered, and the woman 
covered, from his superiority, which he shows by observing, 
that at the creation she was formed out of him, and for him. 
Still there was no difference between them as to their 
acceptance by the Lord ; for as the woman was originally 
taken out of man, ever since men had been born from women ; 
and he gives us another reason for a veil, (called f^oux/a, 
power, as marking man's power over her,) the presence 
though invisible of the Angels^ in their assemblies, a thought 
which might restrain those who did not mind exposing 
themselves before men. 

When the Resurrection was proclaimed by Paul at 
Athens, it was treated by the Philosophers as an ab- 
surdity, but we are astonished that any professing Chris- 
tians should deny it, or explain it away. The Apostle 
here states it to be the very foundation of the faitli, 
declaring that it was the subject of his preaching, and 
if there were to be no resurrection of believers, the re- 
surrection of Christ would not be a fact. In that case 
his preaching and their believing would be in vain, and the 
Apostles would even be found false witnesses of God. He 
begins with showing, that the resurrection of their Lord 
was a fact sufficiently evidenced by witnesses, and that he 
rose as the first-fruits of them that slept, the pledge and 
proof of the future resurrection of all ; since as in Adam all 
die, in Christ all shall be made alive; and Christ must 
reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet, the last 
of whom is death, when he shall deliver up his mediatorial 

y The variety of interpretatioa of this difficult passage arises from the 
ambiguity of the word Angel, that is, Messenger, who may he sent either by 
God or man. If human messengers, they might he sent as spies hy enemies 
to find reason for censure ; or might he their own ministers, who might 
already have obtained that appellatiim, Rev. ii. 1. before whom they 
ought to be modestly apparelled; hut T believe Angels standing alone 
always means God's messengers. 


sovereignty, having accomplished the object of his incar- 
nation, and then sJiall himself (as man) he subject to 
the Deity, who (without the intervention of his Son) shall 
be all things to all men. He asks, if the dead do not rise 
again, why are persons baptized as substitutes ^^ for fi'iends 
w^ho died without being admitted to that sacrament; and why 
should he and others daily expose themselves to danger ; 
for if their hope in Christ was limited to this life, they 
would be of all men the most miserable. He then answers 
the question, with which scoffers hoped to silence him. With 
what body shall the dead arise? and he argues from the 
analogy of God's works here, that as the seed sown and 
the plant which springs from it differ, so the believer's 
future body will not be the present natural corruptible one, 
but spiritual, immortal, incorruptible ; and yet though 
glorified, sufficiently the same, to secure the identity of the 
individual. The seed, be it of wheat, or any other grain, 
does not vegetate unless it die, and God giveth it the body 
that pleaseth him, so that it essentially retains its nature. 
Thus the body will be still a body, though far superior 
to what it is now, being raised in incorruption, and in 
power changed from a natural to a spiritual body, from 
the image of the earthly Adam into that of the heavenly, 
the Lord from heaveji. He notices the difference between 
the flesh of different races of animals, as beasts, and birds, 
and of degrees of brightness of sun, moon, and stars, and of 
the latter among themselves, not I apprehend as indicating 

» Such is the obvious meaning, and we learn from Epiphanius and 
Chrysostom, that such vicarious baptism was practised by certain heretics 
in tlieir time; but as it cannot be supposed that the Apostle would approve 
the custom, assuming it to prevail then, various other interpretations 
have been suggested, the most approved of which is that of Chrysostom, 
baptized on account of (the resurrection) of the dead. So harsh an ellipsis 
seems a most unsatisfactory mode of evading a difficulty: and I am the 
more inclined to acquiesce in the former interpretation, because Alford on 
the passage thinks that the mode in which Paul introduces it, does not 
commit him to the approval of it. 


in the future life degrees of glory, but to convince the 
sceptic, that God, who has created such a variety of bodies 
in earth and heaven, can restore human bodies to life, and 
invest them with greater beauty; and that there may be 
incorruptible as well as corruptible bodies. Now as Jlesli 
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, he reveals 
the secret, that those who are alive at the sounding of the 
last trump, shall be instantaneously changed, putting on 
incorruption without passing through death ; and so will 
Isaiah's declaration be fulfilled, Death is sioallowed up in 
victory. Connecting this with Hosea's exclamation % 
death, I ivill he thy plagues! O Hades, I will he thy 
destruction : he triumphantly breaks forth, death, where is 
thy sting ! O Hades, where is thy victory ! for the sting of 
death is sin, and the law is the stretigth of sin : and he gives 
thanks to God who has disarmed him, giving through the 
Lord Jesus Christ victory to his people. He accordingly 
enjoins his beloved brethren, to he stedfast, immoveable, 
always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that 
their labour ivould not he in vain in the Lord, since their 
recompense will be a glorious resurrection. It is observable, 
that here, and in other places, the Apostle speaks of those 
alone who are to bear the image of the heavenly Adam. 

Finally, he recommends, as he had done personally 
to the Galatians, that each, according as he had pros- 
pered in his trade, should lay up in store at the beginning 
of the week his contribution for the relief of the poor 
brethren in Jerusalem. The Jews abroad were in better 
circumstances than those who remained at home, and 
it was their custom to send them annual alms. Now as 
the Gentile Christians became brethren to the Jews, and 
partake of their spiritual riches, Paul thought it equi- 
table that they should contribute to the maintenance of 
the few believers in Judaea ; and when at Jerusalem, he had 
promised James and Peter, that he would collect for this 
' Isaiiili XV. 8. * llosea xiii. 14. 


purpose. After salutations from the Churches of Asia, 
including Aquila and Priscilla, who had lived with him 
at Corinth, he concludes with an aweful anathema*" of tliose 
who love not the Lord Jesus Christ, and an assurance of his 
love to them, the more requisite, on account of their in- 
gratitude, and the necessity he had been under of reproving 
them on several points. 

During this period we learn from the Epistle, though 
Luke passes it over in silence, that Paul fought with tvild 
beasts", for it was previous to the tumult raised by Deme- 
trius which compelled him to retire soon after from Ephesus. 
The being thrown to the wild beasts was a different punish- 
ment, which caused inevitable death ; but this combat, 
though dangerous, was not of necessity fatal, since the 
person was allowed arms, and if he vanquished the animal 
that was let loose upon him, the judge of the games 
commonly granted him a pardon. Commentators of the 
highest name are divided, some supposing that Paul 
was literally exposed to such a combat; others, I think 
with reason, interpreting his language as metaphorical, 
especially since he introduces it with the phrase, after 
the manner of men. Thus we know he called Nero, or 
his prefect, a lion, and speaks of the Jews as dogs, and 
I cannot conceive that a real combat with beasts would 
liave been omitted by his biographer. The danger of 
whatever nature was extreme, for he seems to allude to 
it when he says to the Corinthians, in his second Epistle ^, 
that he would not have them ignorant of the calamity 
which hefel him in Asia, that he was pressed most exceed- 
ingly beyo7id his strength, so that he despaired even of life. 

Paul's plan was deranged, and his journey into Gi'eece 
hastened by an alarming tumult raised by Demetrius, a 
silversmith, who executed models of the celebrated temple 

<> Maranatha. Otir Lord cometk, that is, to judgment, and to confirm 
the anathema, or curse. 

« 1 Cor. XV. 32. " 2 Cor. i. S— 10. 


of Diana, the tutelary goddess of the city, which was 
considered as a masterpiece of architecture, and one of 
the wonders of the world. He persuaded the other work- 
men that Paul's preaching both dishonoured the great 
goddess, of whose favour and residence they boasted, and 
endangered their trade. The union of devotion and self- 
interest gave full effect to his speech, and produced a 
frenzy of religious zeal, and the craftsmen with one voice 
exclaimed, Great is Dia7ia of the Ephesians. They seemed 
to have rushed into the street where they raised this cry, as 
a signal to her worshippers to appear in her defence : 
the expedient succeeded, the whole city was filled with 
confusion, and the inhabitants coming forward, and seizing 
Gaiusand Aristarchus, Paul's travelling companions, dragged 
them into the theatre, either to bring them to trial, or, if 
the games were then carrying on, (as the mention of the 
AsiarcJis, the superintendents of them, seems to imply,) to 
throw them to the wild beasts. Paul at this critical moment 
would have come forward, disregarding danger, in his wish 
to save his friends, but the disciples would not allow him ; 
and some of the Asiarchs, who were favourable to him, sent 
to him to desire he would not expose himself to danger by 
appearing. The assembly in the theatre became tumultuous ; 
the greater part was ignorant of what brought them together, 
some cried one thing and some another, and amidst the 
universal uproar no one could be heard. An ineffectual 
attempt to restore order and to protect his countrymen was 
made by Alexander, a Jew, probably the coppersmith, who 
afterwards didV'AvA much evil at Rome. The Jews might be 
afraid that they were likely from their known abhorrence 
of idolatry to be supposed concerned in this affront on the 
Ephesian goddess, and would be desirous of turning aside 
the popular indignation from themselves to Paul and his 
companions. But the assembly was too much agitated to 
permit him to address them. Knowing him to be an enemy 


of the religion which they had come together to support, 
they in a transport of zeal cried out, about the space of 
two hours, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. The uproar 
Was at length quelled by the good sense of the Fgaix-aaTevs, 
apparently the chief magistrate, who expostulated with 
them on their folly for proclaiming what every one 
allowed, and none was disposed to deny, that they were 
the guardians of the temple of their goddess, and of her 
image which had fallen from Jupiter. He then urged, 
that the men they were desirous of punishing had neither 
robbed their temples, nor spoken irreverently of Diana. 
He added, that if it arose out of a private quarrel of 
Demetrius, the courts of laiv were open; if any public 
offence had been committed, it should be determined in a 
lawful assembly. His last argument was addressed to 
their fears; We are in danger to be called in question for 
this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may 
give an account of this concourse. The penalty might 
extend beyond the individuals who had caused the dis- 
turbance, and the city itself be subjected to a fine, or 
the loss of privileges, from the jealousy of the Roman 
government, ever ready to repress with severity any 
movement tending to disturb the public tranquillity. 
There is no reason to suppose that this magistrate spoke 
out of friendship to Paul, but he was alarmed at the 
probable consequences of a popular tumult ; and while he 
interposed out of regard to the public peace, or it may be 
from motives of justice and humanity, Providence made 
use of him for the protection of Paul, who had yet many 
important services to perform. 


The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. 

The Apostle had sent Titus and another Christian brother 
with him, to see in what spirit the Corinthians had received 
his letter. He had told them of his intention of con- 
tinuing at Ephesus till Pentecost, but this uproar raised by 
Demetrius caused him unexpectedly to retire to Troas ; 
and though a door was opened to him there hy the Lord, 
he had no rest to his spirit, because he did not find Titus. 
He therefore hastened into Macedonia, that he might 
be nearer, though he deemed it expedient to postpone 
his visit till he could ascertain the effect of his letter. 
His uneasiness was removed by the return of Titus, and, 
encouraged by his account of the obedience and repentance 
of the majority, and their anxiety to see him, he writes 
this second Epistle, to thank them, and to confirm the 
sound part, and to detach the rest from the false teachers, 
who had led them astray, and to add weight to it% sent 
it by Titus. There was a necessity of suiting it to two 
classes, jJiid he would appear inconsistent if all the remarks 
in both Epistles were applied to the same persons. He 
has himself taught us to make the distinction. Now if a 
certain person hath grieved me, he hath not grieved me, 
except by a fart of you^. The commendations belong to 
the sincere, the reproofs, the threatenings, and the irony, to 
the latter, especially to their leaders. 

In answering the calumnies by which the factious en- 
deavoured to discredit him as an Apostle, Paul is led into 
a narrative of his gifts and revelations, which we might 
otherwise have never known, but which to us at this day 
convey the fullest assurance of his acting under an 
immediate commission from God. He appeals unreservedly 
to the power of working miracles, which he had both ex- 

* 2 Cor. viii, 7. '' 2 Cor, ii. 5; i. 14. 


ercisecl and conferred on others, declares his opponents to 
be the ministers of Satan, and menaces them with divine 
judgments. Surely there cannot be stronger internal evidence 
not merely of conscious integrity, but of inspiration. 

Paul's proposal to visit Corinth a third time'= occasions 
a chronological difficulty, as only one previous visit has 
been recorded ''. Micliaelis assumes that he stopped there 
on his return from Crete on his way to Nicopolis, but this 
is wholly conjectural. 

The Epistle is not drawn up systematically, but its main 
scope is to recover the esteem and affection of all, in order 
that at the judgment-day he niay present them to Christ 
as a bride unblameable, and perfect in doctrine and in 
practice. Absolute sinless perfection he could not mean, as 
the experience of the best in all ages, and his own con- 
fessions, attest; but perfection in aim, such as desires to 
perform whatever God commands, and to abstain from 
whatever he forbids, which though it will sometimes fail, 
never yields to sin the dominion. The Epistle may be 
arranged under three heads: 1. his defence of himself and 
of his Apostleship ; 2. his exhortations to reformation ; and, 
3. his threatening to the obstinate and impenitent. 

Associating with himself Timothy, he begins with 
blessing God for the consolation bestowed on him in his 
affliction, because he is thereby enabled to console them, 
and refers to his recent affliction in Ephesus, where, humanly 
speaking, he despaired of life, yet still trusted in God, who 
raises the dead, hinting by the expression that he can 
deliver the living from the greatest apparent danger. He 
then declares, that his ground of boasting was the testimony 
of his own conscience ; that he had conducted himself in all 
places, and especially with them, in simplicity and con- 
sistency, always preaching the same doctrines, and vindi- 
cating himself from the charge of fickleness, in not coming 

<: 2 C(ir. xii. 14 : xiii. 1. '' Acts xviii. 


before, as he had announced, saying, that though he might 
change his purpose, there was no variableness in what he 
taught concerning Christ, through whom God will fulfil 
all his promises. He then appeals by an oath to God for the 
truth of his assertion, that he delayed the censure he must 
have passed on them, that he might meet them not in 
heaviness but in joy, and that the excommunicated person 
might have repented, and been restored to the community 
before his return. To the chai'ge of severity on account of 
the sentence, he shows that he had been influenced by genuine 
regard both to him and to them, in enforcing this salutary 
act of discipline, which seems to have effected the designed 
reformation of the offender ; as evidence of which he states, 
that he had written the first time with many tears, and he now 
entreats them to forgive him, lest he should be swallowed up 
by overmuch sorrow, and Satan should gain advantage over 
them, by driving him to despair, and discouraging others 
from joining the congregation. He speaks of his triumphant 
discharge of his office, whether to the saved or to them 
who perish, and of his sufliiciency derived from God, who 
has made him a sitfficient minister of the new covenant of 
the spirit, not of the letter, thus designating the Christian 
and the Mosaic dispensations. He proceeds to contrast the 
ministration of death written on stone, with the ministration 
of righteousness tvritten on the heart, that is, the con- 
demning Law and the justifying Gospel, declaring that the 
brightness of the former was as it were extinguished by 
that of the latter. He shows also its superiority by its 
permanence, and the distinctness of the revelation, which 
was not veiled under types, for the veil which Moses had 
put over his face had been done away in Christ. Where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is lihertij ; and all we Christians 
with unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the 
Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even 
as by the Spirit, who is the Ijord. He declares, that having 



such a ministry he is not disheartened, nor does he discharge 
it unfaithfully, and that so bright a Gospel can be hid only 
from those who are blinded by the God of this world ; for 
God, who conmanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath 
shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of 
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. He describes 
himself as troubled, yet not distressed; though perplexed, yet not 
in despair; as cast down, yet not destroyed; and declares he is 
sustained by his expectation of future happiness, regarding his 
temporary afflictions as light, because they will work for him 
an exceeding and eternal weight of glory ; and he endeavours, 
both by the terrors of the Lord and the constraining motive 
of Christ's love, to animate them to the same zeal and fidelity ; 
since Christ died for all, that they who live should henceforth 
live not to themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and 
rose again : therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new 
creation. And as God was in Christ reconciling the world 
to Himself, not imputing to them their trespasses, he as an 
ambassador for Christ, prays them to be reconciled to 
God, who hath made Him ivho knew no sin to be made sin for 
us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 
He now, after a most ajffecting statement of his faithful- 
ness as a minister, in privations, and sufferings, and sorrows, 
entreats them to have no intimate connection with idolaters, 
but as God has promised to be their God, to come out 
from among them, and to cleanse themselves from all 
pithiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear 
of God. He expresses his comfort and joy in the effect 
produced by his first letter, which brings on a description 
of godly sorrotv, which worketh salvation not to be re- 
gretted, perfect, unlike remorse, which is that of the world, 
and worketh death. He stirs them up, by the liberality 
of the poorer Churches of Macedonia, to provide handsomely 
for the distressed brethren in Judiea, which reminds him of 
a topic seldom out of his tlioughts, the bounty of God 


in giving his own Son for their salvation, and thanks Him 
for this unspeakable gift / 

He then returns to his ovs^n justification, and answers 
the charge of mean attainments and contemptible speech, 
by showing, that though he had his treasure, as it were, in 
an earthen vessel, the weapons he used were able to cast 
down the fortifications which pride or learning could raise 
up to keep out the truth, and to bring the thoughts into 
captivity and obedience. He then reluctantly out of his 
natural modesty boasts foolishly, as he terms it, of his 
qualifications, which show him not to be a whit behind 
the very chiefest Apostles, much less then could these 
factious teachers presume to enter upon a comparison with 
him. For this purpose he speaks of his disinterestedness 
in preaching to them the Gospel gratuitously, being while 
serving them maintained by other Churches. He then 
enlarges upon his labours and sufferings by land and sea, 
which, unless he had been compelled to boast, we should 
never have known. Next he comes to his visions and 
revelations, and his view both of the highest heaven and of 
paradise, which had a natural tendency to exalt him above 
measure ; in mercy therefore it was accompanied by a thorn 
in the fleshy a messenger of Satan, which must have been 
some bodily infirmity. He entreated the Lord three times, 
that it might depart, we may presume because he thought 
it would impair his usefulness. But the Lord to \vhom he 
prayed said, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength 
is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly then, he infers, 
will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ 
may rest upon me ; showing, that he was the Lord to whom 
he prayed. Therefore I take pleasure, he continues, in 
infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in 
distresses, for Christ's sake ; and he appeals to the signs 
of his Apostleship, wrought among them in signs and 
wonders and mighty deeds. Still he declares he is in 


himself nothing. He expresses his fear for some of them, 
whom he urges to repent, and threatens the impenitent 
with some miraculous judgment, which he has authority 
from Christ to inflict. So unwilling is he to give pain, that 
he delays, that they may amend their conduct. 

He takes leave of the Corinthians with three parting 
admonitions. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, 
and concludes with the encouraging promise, the God of 
love and peace shall be with you. To these, as necessary 
to give ejlfect to them, he adds. Be perfect. He concludes 
with a wish, or rather prayer, which use has familiarized us 
with, The favour of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of 
God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 
We hear no more of these factions, and know from Clement, 
Bishop of Rome, forty years after, that his Epistles to these 
Churches were considered as inspired. " Take up, he says, 
the Epistles of the blessed Apostle Paul, which he wrote 
to you in the beginning of the Gospel. Truly he being 
inspired, admonished you concerning himself, Cephas, and 
ApoUos, for even then there were factions among you." 

Paul, after giving much exhortation in Macedonia, came 
into Greece, where he abode three months. No particulars 
are recorded, probably because Luke was absent ; but it 
appears ^ that he visited Corinth, and that it was during 
this visit that he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. 

f Rom. XV. 26. 




There is no feature in the character of St. Paul more 
deserving of our admiration, than his ardent and unwearied 
love, which comprehended within its limits the care of all 
the Churches, even of those to which he was personally un- 
known. While proclaiming the Gospel to the Corinthians, 
his converted Thessalonians were not forgotten ; and when 
teaching at Ephesus, both publicly and privately, and work- 
ing day and night for his maintenance, he finds time to 
expostulate with the disorderly Church of Corinth. Re- 
turned to Corinth, though much of the three months he 
passed there must have been devoted to the concerns of 
Peloponnesus, a portion of his thoughts was given to the 
Roman believers, whom he incessantly remembered in his 
prayers, though as yet he had been unable to visit them. 

It is remarkable, that we have no account of the origin 
of the Roman Church, but this Epistle contradicts its claim 
to have been founded jointly by Peter and Paul. The 
Gospel was brought there probably by some of the 
converts of the day of Pentecost; for we read, that amongst 
those present at Jerusalem on that memorable day, there 
were strangers of Rome, both Jews and proselytes; and 
we know that Andronicus and Junia, members of that 
Church, were converted before Paul*. From them, with 
whom he had been once in prison, or from Aquila and 
Priscilla, with whom he had lodged on his first visit to 
Corinth, but who had now returned home, or from some 
of his other friends, saluted in the close of his Epistle, 
« Ruin. xvi. 7. 


St. Paul must have been made acquainted with the flourish- 
ing state of the Roman Church. He had often intended 
visiting them, for their faith which was spoken of through- 
out the world made him desirous of seeing them, that he 
might both impart and receive consolation, and confer 
upon them by the laying on of his hands some of those 
miraculous gifts which an Apostle alone could bestow. 
This observation proves the falsity of the Tradition, 
that St. Petei', on his liberation by the Angel from jDrison, 
had founded the Roman Church. Circumstances how- 
ever rendered it expedient that Paul on leaving Corinth 
should travel in a contrary direction ; he saw no probability 
of his prayer being heard, not foreseeing the manner in 
which God would answer it by bringing him from Jeru- 
salem a prisoner, and therefore he dictated his celebrated 
Epistle to the Romans. 

Writing generally with a view to the establishment of 
some particular point, he introduces doctrines incidentally, 
not in a formal order. This elaborate Epistle and that to 
the Hebrews are the only exceptions. Being addressed to a 
Church which he had neither planted nor visited, it contains 
hardly any local or temporary allusions ; it concerns there- 
fore as deeply the Christians of this age and country, as those 
to whom it was addressed eighteen centuries ago, since 
the topics it discusses are of equal interest to all who are 
condemned in Adam and redeemed in Christ. Being the 
only Epistle that exhibits a systematic scheme of divinity, 
it is not surprising that its meaning should be contested by 
opposite Schools ; that the Calvinist deduces from it many 
of his strong texts in favour of irrespective personal election, 
while the Arminian maintains that the election is of nations 
to the knowledge of the Gospel ; yet election is only intro- 
duced incidentally in accounting for the rejection of Chris- 
tianity by the great body of God's ancient [)eople, and 
'' Rom. iii. 28. 


we ought not to be drawn aside into the discussion of this 
intricate and perplexing- question from the great scope of 
this Epistle, which the Author himself informs us is'', that 
a man is justified by faith tvithout the deeds of law. He 
does not say the law, and that designedly ; for though some 
commentators suppose he is speaking of the Mosaic law, 
it plainly appears from the opening, in which he speaks of 
the Gentiles, that he meant all moral law, and that in its 
widest acceptation, whether as revealed to Israel, or written 
by God on the hearts of the Gentiles. 

The Roman Church was a mixed body, formed out of 
Jews and Gentiles ; the former lived like a colony in the 
metropolis, enjoying their own laws, and are calculated by 
Josephus at upwards of 8,000". Paul's object in addressing 
the Roman Christians seems to be an apprehension, lest his 
deferring his visit to them should operate to the prejudice 
of the Gospel*^, and a desire of composing their dissentions. 

Several years had elapsed since, in cheerful obedience 
to the Divine command, he had journeyed through perils 
of every description, proclaiming among the Gentiles the 
unsearchable riches of Christ; still though he had given 
full proof of his ministry through Asia and Greece, from 
Jerusalem as far as Illyricum, it might be insinuated 
that he confined himself to places of comparative obscurity, 
at least that he did not dare to expose his opinions to 
be publicly canvassed in the capital of the world. To 
do away such an impression, he begins with saying, that 
he often intended coming to them, and had prayed to be 
enabled, and that he was as ready to preach at Rome as 
elsewhere, for he was not (as some might report) ashamed 
of the Gospel, which loas the power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believed, without any distinction of nation 
or personal character. Therein was revealed the righte- 

*• Rom. iii. 'iH. ••■ Ant, xvii. 11.1. •' Koin. i. 10. 


ousness of God through faith; but in vain might the 
Apostle magnify the blessing of a free salvation, the gift 
of God, until men were convinced that they conld not 
earn it by their own conduct, and claim it as a debt due 
to their merit. He first therefore establishes, as the found- 
ation of his doctrine, the corruption of human nature ; 
he shows that the wrath of Heaven had been revealed 
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, and proves 
that all mankind had sinned, and had come short of what 
God had required, the Gentiles against the light of nature, 
the Jews against the express declaration of the Law. It 
follows, that every mouth that would attempt to vindicate 
itself, or excuse disobedience, would he stopjyed, and the 
whole ivorld be convicted at the tribunal of God. His 
delineation of heathen depravity is borne out by the testi- 
mony not of heathen satirists only, but also of their 
historians. He declares that they had not the excuse 
of ignorance for their wickedness, but that it sprung from 
the love of sin ; for God had not left himself ivithout a 
witness, and they might from the consideration of his 
works of creation and providence, and from the Law written 
in their hearts, have been led to discover and to worship 
Him ; yet even such as had found out the vanity of idolatry, 
kept hack this truth unrighteously, wilfully worshij^ping 
the creature instead of the Creator, and as they did 7iot 
approve of knowing the true God, He left them to their 
own unapproving mind, so that they not only yielded 
to every evil propensity, but were guilty, both men and 
women, of unnatural crimes, and sunk into the lowest 
depth of wickedness, since they not only sinned themselves, 
but delighted in the sins^ of others. 

c Thus Livy (Preface) says, " We can bear neither our vices, nor their 
remedy." And Paul's contemporary Seneca exclaims, De Ira: " The desire 
of sin increases daily, and shame is more and more extingui^^hed, vici- 
no longer hides itself, and innocence has ceased to exist." 


Thus far the Jew would have cordially agreed with 
the Apostle ; but he turns round upon him, and shows that 
he is ixexcusahle, as sinning against the revealed law, 
of the knowledge of which he boasted, and which never- 
theless he broke, and that in so great a degree, that through 
their iniquity the name of God was reviled among the 
heathen; and he assures him, that the righteous judgment of 
God will not overlook his offences, because he is descended 
from Abraham ; for as many as have sinned without law^ shall 
perish without law ; and as many as have sinned under the 
law, shall be judged by the law, in the day when God 
shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ; and he 
affirms, that circumcision is of no value to one who does 
not keep the Law, for he alone can claim the privileges 
of his nation who is a Jew, whose circumcision is that 
of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter. The 
Jew then naturally asks, what profit is there in circumcision ; 
the answer to which objection is, much every way, but 
chiefly, because unto them were committed the oracles 
of God. He then confirms the doctrine of their guilt and 
condemnation, which he knew they would not accept from 
him, by quotations from the Psalms ; addressed as he 
says to those who are under the Law, that every mouth 
(of Jew as well as Gentile) may be stopped, for by the deeds 
of the Law 7io flesh shall be justified in the sight of God. 
All have sin?ied and come short of the divine approbation, 
but they are not left in despair, for the righteousness of 
God, that is, his method of justification, which is not by 
obedience but by faith in the Saviour, is upon all who 
believe, a method by which he is (not merciful but) just, 
even in the very act of justifying him who believeth in 
Jesus. But the Jew would object, that Abraham was 
justified according to the Scriptures by circumcision ; but 
Paul cites David, to show the blessedness of the man to 
whom God imputeth righteousness without works, and declares 

ZQO epistlf: to the Romans. 

the faith was imputed to Abraham for righfeoustiess before 
his circumcision, which was the seal or attestation of his 
faith which he had already shown ; and this he adds was not 
written for his sake alone, but for all toho believe that Jesus 
our Lord was delivered up to death for our offences, and 
raised again for our justification ; the conclusion from which 
is, that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, through whom we are introduced by faith into the 
favour of reconciliation, in which we stand, and rejoice in 
hope of the glory that God will in the end bestow. 

As the sufferings of believers from persecution might 
be urged as a deduction from their happiness, he selects 
these very trials as the cause of their joy, because the}' 
regard them as means of spiritual improvement, which 
enable them to make their calling and election sure. Thus 
tribulation worketh perseverance, and perseverance the divine 
approbation, and approbation hope, which does not disap- 
point, because God's love toward us is shed abroad i?i the 
heart through the Holy Spirit. He magnifies the love of 
Christ, who died for the impious, and for his enemies, 
while a man could not be found who would die for a 
righteous person, though possibly he might for a benevolent 
one. And therefore, since he has now reconciled them to 
his Father, it cannot be imagined that now they are his 
friends ; he will cease to uphold them through his powerful 
intercession, and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Having 
such a pledge in the love they feel towards God, they have 
joy in him (not like the Jews through the Law, but) through 
the Saviour. 

All boasting then being excluded even from Abraham, to 
whom the reward could not be reckoned as a debt but as 
a favour, he shows the cause of our helpless condition by 
tracing it up to the fall of Adam, who brought sin and 
death upon all his posterity, so that every man born into the 
world is of his own nature inclined to evil, and deserves God's 


wrath and condemnation ^ The Apostle then draws a com- 
parison between Adam and Christ, the first the root and 
cause of sin, and its effect death to his natural seed, that 
is, the whole human race ; the second, of life and holiness 
to all his spiritual seed, that is, to all who receive the 
abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness ; and 
such he shows to be now placed in a better situation, than 
they would have been in if Adam had never fallen. Not 
only is man accounted guilty in consequence of Adam's 
fall, but he derives from him, his federal head, actual sin- 
fulness, as appears from positive transgression, and from 
the aversion of the mind from godliness. Reconciliation 
presupposes previous enmity, and this leads the Apostle 
to digress to explain the necessity of it, by stating the 
doctrine of original or birth-sin. Death was, we know, the 
penalty incurred by Adam, and as that reigned or prevailed 
from his time to Moses, that is before the promulgation 
of the Law, and over all, including infants and idiots, who 
had not actually transgressed, it must have been as his 
descendants, and in consequence of his sin. The comparison 
he institutes between the first and second Adam, between 
the evils brought upon the whole human race by the first, 
and the benefits derivable from the second, seems to esta- 
blish the doctrine laid down so fully in the XXXIst Article 
of our Church, Of Universal Redemption, that is, that Christ 
did not die for the elect alone, but that all men are capable 
of salvation, a doctrine most suitable to the Apostle's imme- 
diate object, the extension of the blessings of the Gospel 
to the Gentiles. 

The evil and the remedy are stated as commensurate ; 
As by one mans disobedience the many, i. e. the whole race, 
are made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall the many 
be made righteous. But where sin abounded, favour, i. e. 
the gift of righteousness, superabounded. The condemnation 
f Art. IX. 


ivas for one sin, the free gift of justif cation is of many. 
Still the Apostle guards his doctrine from implying universal 
salvation ; for though all to whom the gift is oiFered might, if 
they would, receive it, many from various causes decline it. 
If hy one mans sin death reigned hy one, much more shall 
reign in life hy one, not the whole human race, but they who 
receive the abundant favour, and the gift of righteousness. 

Having established the doctrine of justification by faith, 
and shown that it was needed by and intended for them as well 
as Jews, he proceeds to infer, that sanctification is its proper 
and necessary result. This he does in answer to the two 
most plausible abuses, attempted to be grafted on the 
doctrine of grace, and Christians' liberation from the law. 
Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound'^ Shall we 
sin because we are not under the lata, but under grace ? 

1 . Let us, it is urged, continue in sin, that this grace or favour 
may abound; for if God take occasion from man's wicked- 
ness to display more conspicuously his mercy, may we not 
safely, and even upon principle, commit more and greater 
sins, in order that that mercy may be more exalted by our 
salvation? This sentiment he rejects with abhorrence, {let 
it not be entertained,) and treats it as an absurdity. Sancti- 
fication is, as he proceeds to show, the natural consequence 
of justification, and that the ordinance which admitted them 
into Christianity, baptism, that is, immersion into water, 
declared by a most significant sign that they were dead 
to sin and buried, and that they had emerged into a new 
life, in which being liberated from sin, who had tyrannised 
over them, they were to yield themselves up willing slaves 
to God, that all their faculties might be employed as 
weapons to fight his battles against the world, the flesh, 
and the devil. 

In answer to the second objection, he enquires if it be 
rational to suppose, that, as some did, they might sin 
because they are freed from the law, (which exacted perfect 


obedience, without any offer of pardon for commission or 
omission,) and admitted into the dispensation of mercy. 
He affirms, on the contrary, that under Christianity, no 
less than under the law of Moses or that of nature, those 
who willingly continue sinners, are the slaves of sin, and 
become subject to eternal death as its ivages, and that 
those only who are obedient to the faith of the Gospel will 
receive the reivard of righteousness, the free gift of eternal 
life. The real Christian then will yield himself up as a 
willing slave to God, (as by his grace alive from sin,) that all 
his faculties may be employed as weapons consecrated to him 
to fight his battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil. 
Having affirmed their deliverance through Christ from the 
power and dominion of sin, he illustrates from the case of a 
widow the doctrine of their death to the Law as a covenant; 
but that he may not be supposed to cast an imputation upon 
it, as if intended or adapted to make men sinners, he shows, 
that sin and the law are so opposite in their nature, that the 
use of the one is to detect the other. The law as proceeding 
from a perfect being is holy, just, and good, and properly 
understood, is as it were a two-edged sword, which destroys 
at once self-righteousness and antinomianism ; for the reason 
why it cannot justify us is its perfection, but this very 
perfection renders it fit that we should obey it, though our 
obedience can only be partial. This leads to the well- 
known description of a man alive in his own estimation, 
till the spirituality and full extent of the commandment 
coming home to his conscience, his desire and ineffectual 
efforts to keep it cause his hopes from it to die away, and 
he feels himself to be a helpless sinner under merited con- 
demnation, till the Gospel revives him with the prospect 
of deliverance. Augustine, Calvin, and most commentators 
of their school, maintain, that the Apostle describes his own 
actual condition at the time, consequently that of all the 
regenerate who, though free from condemnation, still main- 


tain througli life a conflict with indwelling sin. The Greek 
and the Arminian commentators, and some Calvinists, hold, 
that though he speaks in the first person, he assumes the 
character of an unregenerate sinner, who is awakened by 
the law to a sense of his sin and misery. The former urge, 
that the regenerate alone can delight in the law of God; 
the latter, that the unregenerate alone can be said with 
truth to he sold under sin, and both are predicated of this 
person ; it seems better therefore, with Doddridge, to take 
a middle course, and to consider the character assumed not 
as that of himself, as of the confirmed Christian, which 
he then was, but as that of a man under the Law, first 
ignorant of its extent, and then endeavouring to fulfil it; 
but finally feeling his inability, with transport discovering 
the Gospel, from which he obtains pardon, and with it 
peace and joy. The conflict between the law of God, in 
which, after the inward man, this person delights, and the 
law of sin iti his members, which brings him into captivity, 
makes him exclaim, Who shall deliver me from this body 
which through sin leads to death f and he thanks God for his 
deliverance, effected by his Lord Jesus Christ ,• so that there 
is not only no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, 
but the law of the Spirit of life has made the believer /ree 
from the laio of sin and death, that the righteousness of the 
law might he fulfilled in those who walk not after the fiesh, 
but after the Spirit. 

He then expatiates on the privileges of real believers, 
who walk^ not after the flesh, hut after the Spirit; who are 
spiritually not carnally minded, and in whom dwells the 
Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead. They 
are released from the spirit of bondage, having received 
the Spirit of adoption into God's family, which the Holy 
Spirit witnesses to their spirit ; a7id if children, then heirs, 
and joint heirs loith Christ, they live to Christ, and mortify 
f Rom. viii. 


their evil inclinations. Still their happiness is more in 
expectation than fruition; and while the whole human race^ 
earnestly longs for the manifestation of the sons of God, that 
they being delivered from the bondage of corruption, may 
themselves shai-e their glorious liberty, even Christians 
themselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan 
within themselves, waiting for the deliverance of the body 
from corruption at the resurrection. The Spirit also helps 
their infirmities, and as they know not what to pray for, 
makes intercession for them with groanings which cannot 
be expressed in words. Their privileges are inexpressibly 
great, they are justified by God, no man therefore can 
condemn them ; God is on their side, and makes all things 
cooperate for their advantage. If God be our justifier, who, 
he asks, can bring an accusation against us, who can pro- 
nounce sentence against us, if Christ our future Judge not 
only died, but makes continual intercession for us ? He 
declares in return that nothing can separate them from their 
love to Christ. He triumphantly asks, shall tribulation, 
or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? 
Nay, on the contrary, they are even more than conquerors, 
in this contest, through him that loved them, for it 
strengthens their faith and love. / am persuaded, concludes 
Paul, that neither (fear of) death, nor (hope of) life, nor 
(evil) angels, nor (human ?) principalities or powers, nor 
things present or future, nor height (of prosperity), nor 
depths (of misery), can separate us from our love to God 
in Christ. Such is the happy lot of all who are called by 
God according to his purpose; and we naturally seek to 
discover our own title to this inestimable privilege ; but 

g The Greek and many modem commentators make ktjVjs, creation, to 
comprehend figuratively the whole, even irrational creatures ; hut 1 prefer 
limiting ii. to mankind, i. e. the Krlcns to whom the Gospel was to he 
preached. Mark xvi. 15. There is an ohscurity in our version, from Krims 
being rendered both creature and creation. 


revelations cannot be expected, and impulses and feelings 
are delusive, and not to be trusted ; there is in fact but one 
evidence of God's love to us, that is, our love to him, and 
this is to be proved not by words, but by obedience to his 
commandments. Whatever may be the moving cause in 
the Divine mind of predestination, we should carefully note, 
that tlie predestination here asserted is not that of in- 
dividuals, but of characters ; that is to say, those who are 
elected to eternal happiness as the end, are elected to 
holiness as the mean, for they are predestinated to be con- 
formed to the image of Christ before they are predestinated 
to glory. And it is remarkable, that the Apostle applies to 
the same persons the terms, tJiem that love God, and them 
who are the called according to his purpose; thus explaining 
the harder by the easier, and showing that we have no 
warrant for deeming any elect who have not this mark of 
election. Whoever would enjoy the consolations with 
which the chapter closes, must fulfil the duties insisted 
upon in the beginning, for it is only to them who are in 
Christ Jesus, loho loalk Jiot after thefesh hut after the Spirit, 
that there is no condemnation; for if a man have not the Spirit 
of Christ, he is none of his. 

In the third chapter, Paul had brought in a Jew objecting 
to his doctrine of justification by faith, that the rejection 
of his nation, which it implied, would be a breach of faithful- 
ness in the Deity, who had promised to be the God of 
Abraham, and his seed for ever. Paul accordingly now 
explains God's dealings with the Israelites, and foreseeing 
that his statement would be ofiensive, he endea'«''Ours 
to soften it, by commencing it with an asseveration, that 
he himself would willingly have been cut off froim the 
Christian Church, if that would have preventecl their 
rejection ; for he loved his nation, and highly e-^teemed 
their privileges, which he enumerates, concluding -with the 
highest to which he wishes to draw their attention, the 


birth, as to his human nature, of the Messiah, whose 
divinity he at the same time acknowledges in the cus- 
tomary form, who is over all, God blessed fur ever. He 
proceeds to prove, that God's promises to Abraham would 
not be broken, even if the whole of his natural seed 
should be cast off; and shows, by instances in the family of 
that patriarch, in which Isaac was chosen by mere favour 
in preference to Ishmael to be the parent of the visible 
Church, that God might without injustice admit the 
Gentiles to share in these 7iational privileges, which he had 
bestowed gratuitously upon Isaac instead of Ishmael, and 
on the descendants of Jacob in preference to those of Esau, 
though both the children not only of Isaac, but of the 
same wife. He tells them, that God exercises the same 
sovereignty, without giving the reasons of his government, 
in punishing nations as in conferring favours. Of those 
who have provoked his judgments, he makes examples of 
such as he pleases, as the Egyptians, passing over others no 
less guilty, and silences the objector by asserting the right 
of the Creator to do what he pleases with his creatures. 
Of Pharaoh, who is here spoken of not as an individual, 
but as the king of the Egyptians, God says, whom he will 
he hardeneth. Many who readily allow, that on whom he 
will he showeth mercy, and that those whom he chooses 
have no previous merit to recommend them, feel shocked at 
the former phrase, as if it made God the author of sin ; but 
we may be certain, that though God will be finally glorified 
as just and holy in the eternal damnation of the wicked, 
that he never made any one wicked. How is it indeed con- 
ceivable, that He who is the author of all excellence, and 
too pure to behold iniquity, so that it is only through the 
expiatory sacrifice of his Son that sinners can approach him, 
can have any thing to do with the production of sin. If 
any Scripture expression then seems to affirm or infer so 
shocking a proposition, the fault must be in the imperfection 


of language, or of our faculties unable to reconcile the 
divine attributes with the existence of moral evil. 

In this particular instance, the history of Pharaoh, as 
detailed in Exodus, shows, that the tendency of the miracles 
wrought by Moses was to soften the king's heart, which in 
fact he hardened himself, God only permitting him to make 
such an use of his forbearance as to draw upon himself de- 
struction. To use St. Paul's words in this very Epistle, he 
despised the riches of God's goodness and forbearance and 
long suffering, not knowing that the intention of it was to 
lead him to repentance ; hut after his hardness and impenitent 
hearty treasured up to himself wrath against the day of wrath^ 
and revelation of the righteous judgment of God^. The 
quotation from Exodus, and the allusion to Jeremiah's 
type of the potter, in the opinion of the most approved 
commentators, show, that the predestination here spoken of 
is not like that of the preceding chapter, of individuals to 
eternal life, but of nations to temporal advantages, which is 
confirmed by the prediction, Jacob I have loved, and Esau I 
have hated; which, if we read the whole passage, is, it is 
clear, applied not to themselves, but to their remote pos- 
terity. He proceeds to show, that the admission of the 
Gentiles to the privilege of being the people of God, while 
Israel was rejected, was so far from being at variance with 
God's design, that it had been foretold by Hosea'' and Isaiah'. 
That justification upon the gracious terms of faith had 
been offered to both Jew and Gentile, and was accepted 
by the latter, while the former, through a mistaken attach- 
ment to the Law, and through a spirit of self-righteousness, 
stumbled at that precious stone, which had been laid in 
Zion as the only foundation for salvation ; and whoever 
believed in him should not he ashamed. He next contrasts the 
two schemes of justification ; that of the Law, the man uho 

1' Rom. ii. 4, 5. ' Jer. xviii. 1— 10. 

^ Hosea i. 10. ' Isaiah x. 22. 


doeth these things shall live by them; and that of Faith, to 
which he accommodates the language of Deuteronomy", 
that it is neither in heaven, nor fn the deep, hut very nigh, m 
thy mouth, and in thy heart. He laments their blindness( 
he shows that there is but this one mo^e of justification for 
Jew and Gentile, and that the former might have known 
that upon their unbelief the latter would-be adopted; 
for Moses had foretold that God would excite their 
jealousy, by conferring on the Gentiles the benefits whicb 
they thought were exclusively their own"; and Isaiah" in 
still plainer language declares, / was found of them thaf 
sought me not ; and all day long I have siretchedj forth my 
hands to a disappointed and gainsaying people. He will 
not, however, close the subject with their rejection, but 
cheers them with a prophecy of restoration and conversion. 
He shows that it was not total, for he himself, and a remnant 
according to the election of grace, had embraced the Gospel, 
as a small number had been faithful during the general de- 
fection in the time of Elijah. He takes occasion to warn the 
Gentiles not to boast and insult over the Jews, since if they 
had been cut off from their own olive tree, that the Gentiles, 
a wild shoot, might be grafied in, they could not expect to be 
preserved, if they too should apostatize. He shows also, 
that the rejection of Israel was net final ; that their unbelief, 
by exciting preachers more speedily and more openly to ad- 
dress the Gentiles, had been the means of enriching them, 
and that hereafter in return, their adoption would stimulate 
the Jews, and end in their general conversion, the happy 
result of which would be, as it were, life from the dead, 
both to the Gentiles and to themselves, for God has shut 
up all in unbelief, that in the end he might have mercy 
upon all. He ends with breaking forth into admiration of 
the unfathomable depth of the wisdom and knowledge of 
God, evinced in making first the rejection of the Jews a 
m Deut. XXX. 12, 14. " Deut. xxxii. 21. " Isaiah Ixv. 1, 2. 


means of calling the Gentiles, ai>d then working upon the 
contumacious Jews by his msrcy shown to the Gentiles. 
His decrees, however, cannot be fully investigated and com- 
prehended by finite beings, yet we know enough of his 
ways to have a full assurance that he is just and good, 
even when his proceedings are not in harmony with our 
notions of these qualities. Instead therefore of perplexing 
our minds with the secret things which belong unto him, 
let us walk in the light with which he has favoured us 
C9:itentedly, acknowledging that he is the Creator, Pre- 
server, and Governor of all things, and that to Him, as the 
ultimate end of all things, we ought to be unreservedly 
devoted ; for, in St. Paul's words, of Him, and through Him, 
and to Him, are all things. 

Having closed the doctrinal part of the Epistle, he 
beseeches the Roman believers to act in a manner worthy 
of the Gospel, on the excellence of which he had expatiated. 
With allusion to sacrifices, to which they had been accustomed, 
he adjures them by the mercies which he had enumerated to 
devote themselves, instead of bulls or goats, to God as 
living victims, which was a rational kind of worship, and 
not to he conformed to the world, but to religion, which 
would be a transformation, not only in outward appear- 
ance, but in the reneioal of the mind, which would enable 
them to ascertain the good and acceptable and perfect 
will of God; and he charges them on his Apostolical 
authority to think of themselves with sobriety, which will 
be done by considering themselves as members of the Chris- 
tian body, in which individuals have different offices to fulfil. 
He exhorts them to unfeigned philanthropy and brotherly 
love, and to diligence in their occupation, considering that in 
so doing they are to serve not themselves but the Lord; to 
joy in hope, to patience in tribulation, and to perseverance 
in prayer. Their love is to show itself in assisting neces- 
sitous believers, in hospitality, in blessing their persecutors. 


and in sympathy in the joys and sorrows of others. He 
urges them, as far as possible, to live peaceably with all men, 
and to be so far from avenging themselves, as when 
wronged to leave the judgment to God ; and even to 
feed an enemy, if hungry, and so by kindness to overcome 
evil, by bringing him to a better state of mind. Submission 
to government is then enforced, and that in the widest 
acceptation of the term, the powers that be de facto not 
entering into the question de jure, and because they are 
ordained by God; and that rulers are not a terror to good 
hut to evil works. By declaring that the ruler beareth 
not the sword in vain, hut is a minister of God, he 
incidentally authorizes capital punishment, and shows that 
we must submit not only from the fear of punishment, 
but from duty to God. Under this head the Apostle 
includes the payment of taxes, and due respect to persons 
in office ; and this leads him to conclude, that the only debt 
we should owe to any one was that of Love, which is a debt 
continually recurring, and, by working no ill, meets all the 
requirements of the Law. He urges too as an additional 
motive, that now their salvation was nearer than when 
they first believed ; that the day of redemption was at hand ; 
let us therefore, he exclaims, cast off the works of darkness, 
and assume the weapons of light; let us walk neither 
riotously, nor in strife and envyings, but honourably as 
in the day, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, taking no 
previous thought for the gratification of carnal lusts. As 
a mixed body of Jews and Gentiles, many of the former 
were weak brethren, who indulged in scruples respecting 
food and days, such as keeping the sabbath, and Jewish 
fasts and festivals ; and his charitable advice in such cases 
is to receive such as members of the congregation, but 
not to dispute with or to despise them, but ever to 
refrain from eating or drinking what they are satisfied 
they innocently might, rather than put a stumbling-block 


in a brother's way, for whom Christ died, for they 
had no right to judge a brother; the kingdom of God 
consisted not in such distinctions about food, but in righte- 
ousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; and even 
Christ pleased not himself, but was willing even to endure, as 
the Psalmist said, the reproaches of them who reproached 
God, out of kindness to his adopted brethren ; and he 
adds the important remark, that the whole of the ancient 
Scriptures were written for their instruction, that through 
2)atience under affliction, and the consolation derived from 
the Scriptures, they might have hope ; and he prays, that the 
God of patience and of consolation may grant that they 
might he like-minded, according to the spirit and example of 
Christ, so that they might ivith one mind and with one mouth 
glorify God the Father through Him ; wherefore they should 
bear with one another. In conclusion, he says, that Jesus 
the Christ was a minister of the circumcision, to confirm the 
promises made to the fathers, which he shows from the Old 
Testament included the Gentiles over whom he was to reign'; 
whom Isaiah and even Moses'' call upon to rejoice together 
with his people; he therefore ventures to remind them, 
God had graciously made him the minister of the Messiah 
to the Gentiles, that the offering up of them might be 
acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. He ex- 
presses his hope of being able to come to them on a future 
projected visit to Spain ; but now he is going to Jerusalem, 
and solicits their prayers, that he may be delivered from 
them who do not believe in Judcea, and that the contributions 
he was bringing with him might be accepted by the saints 
there. He then commends to them Phoebe, to whom he 
had entrusted this most valuable of letters. He then salutes 
no less than twenty-six members of their congregation, who 
were probably his only personal acquaintances among them. 
With the exception of his friends and fellow-labourers, 
' Isaiah xi. 1.10. '' Dent, xxxii. 4.S. 


Aquila and Priscilla, we only know of their existence from 
this enumeration, but their record is no .doubt on high, 
among those who really deserve the much abused title of 
Saints. It should be noticed, that no less than nine of these 
are women. Junia and Priscilla are saluted like their hus- 
bands as fellow-labourers, and of three it is recorded that they 
laboured in the Lord: an important remark, as showing that 
the female sex is not restricted to domestic duties, and the 
education of their own families ; and happily in our days we 
find them eminently useful, promoting as district visitors, and 
in other departments, the cause of Christianity. He adds 
the salutations of his companions, of whom Timothy is the 
only one known to us ; Tcrtius his amanuensis, from the 
equivalent meaning of the word in Hebrew, is supposed to 
be the Silas who became Paul's companion instead of Mark, 
and whom, under the Roman appellation Sylvanus, he joins 
with himself in addressing the Thessalonians. He con- 
cludes with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with an 
ascription of praise through Him to the only zvise God, who 
was to stablish them according to the revelation of the secret 
now made manifest to all nations, in order to produce obedience 
to the faith. 

Paul had intended to sail to Syria direct, but hearing 
that the Jews had contrived a plot either to murder him, 
or to rob him of the donations he was conveying to 
Jerusalem, which when the contributions of Macedonia and 
Greece were put together would amount to a considerable 
sum, he altered his plan, and returned by his former route, 
but was detained at Philippi till after the passover. 
He appears throughout the narrative to have lived much 
with his converts, and thus must have had continual 
opportunities of teaching them practical religion by his 
example. On his return to Asia, we are expressly told, 
that on this occasion he had seven fellow-travellers; and 


there might be others that are not named, at least there 
can be little doubt that his biographer sailed with him from 
Philippi, and continued with him till the termination of the 
-narrative. His intention was to arrive at Jerusalem for the 
feast of Pentecost, in order probably that he might thereby 
have the opportunity of meeting a larger body of his country- 
men, and might be better enabled to distribute his collection 
of alms among the brethren, some of whom might be living 
at some distance. He therefore travelled with rapidity; he 
was, however, prevailed upon to pass a week at Troas, where 
on the Lord's day the brethren appeared to have partaken 
of the Eucharist, and discoursed till day break, as he in- 
tended to resume his journey on the morrow. This meeting 
was rendered remarkable b}' an accident. Eutyches, one of 
the congregation in the third story, having dropped asleep, 
while leaning against a window, fell through, probably on the 
outside, into the street. Paul went down, and in imitation 
of Elijah and Elisha in similar cases, stretched himself upon 
the body of the youth, and said. Trouble not yourselves, for 
his life is in him. From this ambiguity of language, arising 
out of modesty, some modern commentators infer that he 
only recovered from a swoon. The Greek text is ^g5») vsKgog, 
taken up dead, and unless Paul restored him by a miracle, 
the fact does not seem to have been important enough to be 

From Troas Paul proceeded alone by land to Assos, while 
his companions went by sea; he might thus enjoy for a little 
longer the society of his friends at Troas, and would avoid 
the tedious circumnavigation of the promontory of Lectrum, 
which made the distance a third longer. As he could not 
visit Ephesus without an inconvenient delay, he passed by 
that important scene of his labours, but stopped at Miletus, 
and summoned the Elders to meet him there, about fifty 
miles distant. His parting charge deeply affected them, 
especially as he assured them, that none of them should see 


him again. He recalled to their remembrance his own 
faithfulness in the discharge of his ministerial functions in 
Asia in the midst of trials, from the lying in wait of the 
Jews,- for he had kept back from them no profitable in- 
structions, but had declared the whole counsel of God, and 
this to Jew and Greek at all seasons in public and in private, 
so that if any refused to receive his doctrine of repentance 
and faith, he was pure from their blood. He was led to 
make this solemn declaration, because he is going to Jeru- 
salem, where he anticipates if not death, at least bonds and 
afflictions, and is persuaded that he sees them for the last 
time. He warns them therefore to take heed, bofh to 
themselves and to the Church of God, purchased by his own 
blood, over which they have been placed as overseers, not 
merely by human ordinances, but by the Holy Ghost; and he 
intimates the necessity of this, because grievous wolves, that 
is, teachers of destructive heresies, would enter in to devour 
their flock, and even such would arise out of their own body. 
He commends them to God and to his gracious Word, as able 
to build them up, and to give them an inheritance among the 
saints. He reminds them of his disinterestedness, he having 
never coveted the property of his converts, though in cir- 
cumstances which obliged him to labour for the maintenance 
of himself and his associates ; giving them an example, and 
recalling to their remembrance a saying of our Lord, 
recorded no where else, that it is happier to give than to 
receive. His prediction of some of their own body teaching 
perverse things, we shall find was soon fulfilled, if we turn 
to the second Epistle of Timothy', where Hymenaeus and 
Philetus are mentioned, as saying the resurrectioji was already 
past, and thereby overthroioing the faith of some. His decla- 
ration that he should see them no more, is taken by some for a 
suggestion only of his own mind; and as he was afterwards, 
if not at Ephesus, yet in its vicinity, it is urged as im- 
proba])le that all these presbyters should be by that time 
' 2Titn. ii. 17, 18. 


dead. At Patara they embarked in another vessel, for the 
one which had conveyed them thus far seems to have been 
bound to that port. At Tyre, having found out some dis- 
ciples, they were prevailed upon to pass a week, and were 
accompanied by them and their families to the place of 
embarcation, where they knelt down and prayed. They 
then sailed to Ptolemais, where they abode with the bre- 
thren a single day, and proceeded to Cassarea, where they 
made some stay with Philip the Evangelist, who resided 
in that city with his four daughters, who were in the 
habit of prophesying. Both at Tyre and Caesarea he was 
entreated not to go up to Jerusalem; the disciples at the 
former city are said to have spoken through the Spirit, and 
at the latter the same Agabus, who had foretold the 
dearth in the reign of Claudius, now, in the style of the 
ancient prophets, by a significant emblem, indicated the 
nature of his reception at Jerusalem. Thus saith the Holy 
Ghost, So shall the Jeios at Jerusalem hind the man that 
owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the 
Gentiles. At first sight the Apostle seems to act in defiance 
of a divine warning twice given ; and the unfavourable ter- 
mination of his visit, which interfered with his schemes, and 
detained him for above two years in confinement in com- 
parative uselessness, might cause a suspicion that he was to 
blame in disregarding their entreaties. Yet as we find, that 
when he could not be persuaded they all ceased, saying, 
The Lord's will he done, they must have been satisfied that 
he was in the right. His natural feelings, and now, since 
he knew that he could be of no service, his judgment, 
would have been upon their side ; sve may therefore reason- 
ably assume that he acted in conformity with the Divine will ; 
and of this we can entertain no doubt, if his declaration to 
the Ephesian elders, that he went up hound in the Spirit to 
Jerusalem, may be referred, as it is by many commentators, 
not to the suggestions of his own mind, but that of the 
Holy Ghost. " The Spirit of God cannot contradict himself. 


We conclude therefore that they, understanding by the 
revelation of the Spirit what danger awaited Paul, out of 
love, and not by any special command of the Spirit, intreated 
him not to go up to Jerusalem, being ignorant of what the 
same Spirit had commanded Paul "■." The knowledge which 
he had now obtained of the future, greatly raises our notions 
of his magnanimity in resisting the solicitations of friends, 
and proceeding unmoved to meet the bonds that awaited 

In this journey they were attended by some of the 
Christians of Caesarea, who brought them to one Mnason, 
a Cypriot, who had been a disciple from the beginning, 
at whose house the Apostle and his companions might be con- 
veniently lodged during the feast. Paul the next day intro- 
duced them to James, the only one of the twelve resident 
at Jerusalem ; but all the elders were convened, and they 
glorified the Lord on hearing of his success in so many 
populous places. His arrival, however, occasioned some 
perplexity. The viany tens of thousands of Jewish con- 
verts, of whom a great number would attend the feast, 
had received an unfavourable impression of Paul, supposing 
that he not only maintained that the Mosaic ritual was 
no longer binding, but required that it should be rejected. 
James therefore and the Elders recommended, that as they 
had four persons among them bound by a vow, Paul should 
join them in their abstinence from wine, and pay their 
expenses for them, on their heads being shaved on its 
completion". This was not unusual, and of course popular; 
and we have a case in point in King Agrippa, who, ac- 
cording to Josephus, coming to Jerusalem, he ordered 
several Nazarites to be shaved °. Paul consented ; and 

"> Beza on the passage. 

" The charge would be the price of eight lambs and four rams, besides 
oil, flour, &c. 
" Ant. xix. 6. 


certainly nothing seemed better calculated to answer the 
intended purpose, since this would be a public evidence 
that the reports concerning him were erroneous, and 
that he observed not only the written law, but their 
customs. It has been questioned whether on this occasion 
he and his advisers acted in strict consistency with Chris- 
tian simplicity ; and it should be remembered, that 
though the Apostle were infallibly preserved from mis- 
taking, corrupting, or mutilating the doctrine which 
they were entrusted to communicate to the Church, 
yet they were not rendered infallible in their personal 
conduct. Still I incline to think, especially as his 
compliance led to such important consequences, that his 
desire of becoming all things to all men, did not in 
this instance carry him too far, or it would have been 
blamed, either here, or by himself in some Epistles. We 
know, that to a certain extent his principle was to conform 
to prejudices, to the Jew I became as a Jew, and we 
are not, I conceive, competent to mark the line of demar- 
cation between customs unlawful and indifferent. He 
appears also himself at Cenchrea to have made a similar 
vow of his own accord, and James and the Elders avowed 
that they meant nothing contrary to their former de- 
termination concerning the Gentile converts. The next 
day he entered the temple with those persons, probably 
to give notice of his taking upon himself the obligation 
to abstinence for seven days, for every one was at liberty" 
to fix upon the period he chose. Towards the end of 
the time, some of the Asiatic Jews, who had before 
opposed him at Ephesus, and had seen Trophimus, a Gentile 
convert of that city, walking with him in the streets, raised 
a commotion, supposing that he had brought him into 
the second court of the temple, which no Gentile might 
enter under the penalty of death. They dragged him 
" Numbers vi. 5. 


out, and the priests closed the doors, that they might not 
appear to have taken part in the disturbance. Paul would 
probably have been murdered, had not the temple been 
commanded by a castle, once the residence of the Asmonaean 
princes, which had been rebuilt by Herod the Great, 
who called it after his first patron, Mark Antony, Antonia. 
One of its four towers communicated with the porticos of 
the temple by a double staircase, by which the garrison 
might come down on festivals, to keep the people in order. 
Apprized of the tumult, Lysias the commander, with 
soldiers and subordinate officers, hastened to his rescue ; 
the mob left off beating him, and the Chiliarch fulfilled 
the prophecy of Agabus, of which he was ignorant, by 
ordering him to be bound by two chains. He mistook 
him for an Egyptian impostor, who five years before 
had gathered together as many as 30,000 men, and had 
been put to flight by Felix ; but finding him to be a Jew, 
he granted the permission he had asked to address them, 
which he did from the stairs, the head of which, from its 
elevation, protected him from the fury of the crowd. 
He spoke in their own tongue, which procured him a 
more favourable hearing. He so defended himself as to 
show that he was no despiser of the Law, and that his 
total change of views and conduct could not be attributed 
to his feelings or interest, but proceeded from a divine 
interference. To prove this he began by stating, that he 
was by birth a Jew, and educated at Jerusalem under 
Gamaliel, one of the most eminent teachers of the Law, 
instructed in it in the most perfect manner, and as zealous 
for it as themselves, for, as the high priest and elders could 
bear him witness, he had persecuted Christians even unto 
death. He next related the appearance of the Saviour, 
which converted him. He then showed his wish and in- 
tention to have proclaimed him to his countrymen, but added, 
that while praying in the temple he fell into a trance, 


and again saw the Lord Jesus, who assured him that they 
would not receive his testimony, and commanded him to 
go unto the Gentiles. His speech altogether failed of 
■producing the intended effect. When he made this avowal, 
not only that Jesus was the Messiah, but that the Gentiles 
were to be admitted into his kingdom, they found in it 
a confirmation of what had been reported against him, 
and shouted with fury, Away with such a fellow from 
the earth. On this the Tribune'', comprehending from the 
tumult the purport of the mob, and supposing that he must 
have been guilty of some misdemeanor, ordered him to 
be examined by scourging ; and while the executioner 
was binding his arms extended to a post, he was liberated 
on claiming his privilege of a Roman citizen, which he 
possessed, not as the tribune by purchase, but by in- 
heritance. On the morrow he loosed him from his bonds, 
and brought him before the Sanhedrim. 

Paul before this council maintained his perfect in- 
tegrity up to that present time. Upon this, Ananias, 
who acted as high priest, ordered them to smite him 
upon the mouth. This was iniquitous and illegal ; and the 
Apostle, though a prisoner, boldly denounced the judgment 
of God upon him, and declared him to be a ivhited wall, or 
hypocrite, adding, sittest thou to judge me after the laiv, 
and commandest me to be smitten contrary to law"* ? They 
that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high j^riest ? Then 
said Paul, I wist not that he was the high priest ; for it is 
tvritien hi the law, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of 
thy people. The answer contained a just rebuke, and a pre- 
diction ; but he seems to have been too much carried away 
with indignation, and certainly he did not display the same 

v The chief captain, E. V. called in the original, Chiliarch, that is, 
ruinminander of a thousand men. 

'1 This is not an iinprecaliun but a jiiedictioii ; lor five years after, he was 
draprpred from a hidinir jjlacc duriui-- a tumult, and killed liy assassins. 


patience that his Divine Master had done under similar 
provocation. This his reply seems to acknowledge, and 
I wist not, ought probably to have been rendered, I did not 
consider or reflect that it was the high priest ; others 
take it in the more obvious meaning of acknowledging 
ignorance; and if we avert to history, it will surprise none 
that Paul should not know him, since he had been long- 
absent from Jerusalem, and could not ascertain him to be so 
by any distinction in dress, for the pontifical robe was only 
worn in the temple. It is doubtful if, strictly speaking, the 
office was not now vacant ; for this Ananias who had filled 
it had been sent a prisoner to Rome, to give an account of 
his administration to Claudius; and, through the intercession 
of the younger Agrippa, was acquitted. Jonathan, who had 
acted as his substitute, had been assassinated in the temple by 
the connivance at least of Felix, and Ananias now undertook 
to preside; whether by right, or in consequence of the 
vacancy of the office, we do not know. The Apostle must 
have personally known many members of the Sanhedrim, 
and he was aware that it was divided into two parties, very 
vehement in their contests with each other, though now agreed 
in persecuting him. As they would therefore attend neither 
to reasoning nor facts, he attempted to divert their violence 
against each other by declaring himself a Pharisee, crying out, 
that he was called in question for maintaining the resurrection 
of the dead. In one sense this was a truth, and as he was 
not questioned concerning new doctrines, he seems to be 
justifiable in thus dividing the assembly. The contest soon 
became so fierce, that Lysias began to apprehend that they 
would tear him in pieces, and therefore he ordered him to 
be conveyed back to the castle. Though rescued, he was 
probably under some discouragement, as the Saviour was 
pleased to appear to him, assuring him that he accepted of 
his testimony to him at Jerusalem, and that his desire of 
bearing witness to him at Rome also should be granted. 
s 2 


This secured him from all enemies, who might fight but 
could not conquer him. The Jews, seeing Lysias was re- 
solved to protect him unless legally convicted of some crime, 
began to fear that their malice would be disappointed; forty 
therefore of the most zealous of them, supposing they 
should thereby do God service, conspired together, en- 
gaging by an oath, and an imprecation of divine vengeance 
on themselves, not to taste meat or drink till they had 
killed him. They had no scruple of making known their 
plan to the assembly, and assigning them their part in order 
to accomplish it. Paul's sister's son (we are not informed by 
what means) discovered the plot, and made it known to his 
uncle, who, though assured of Divine protection, thought it 
his duty to use all jiroper human means for his safety, and 
accordingly desired him to communicate the fact to Lysias. 
Had that officer kept him at Jerusalem, an insurrection 
might have been excited, or some opportunity might have 
occurred of murdering him. He therefore resolved to send 
his prisoner to the governor at his residence, Ca^sarea, 
seventy miles distant. The body appointed to escort him, 
consisting of 200 legionaries, 200 light armed foot, and 
70 horsemen, would have sufficed to repel any tumultuary 
assault; but to prevent bloodshed, they were ordered to set 
out three hours after sunset, that they might be out of the 
reach of the zealots before morning. This prudent pre- 
caution was accompanied with one equally humane, they 
were ordered to provide beasts for the accommodation of 
Paul. Ijysias sent with him an explanatory letter, but he 
is careful not to intimate that he had bound Paul in order 
to scourge him, and was willing that Felix should conclude 
that his own interposition arose from a previous knowledge 
that he was a Roman citizen. When arrived there, he was 
not thrown into prison, but was ordered to be kept in 
Herod's palace. 

The high priest and elders considered the persecution 


of Paul SO important, that they followed him to Caesarea, 
and availed themselves of the assistance of Tertullus, a 
pleader. Felix had been a freedman of the Emperor 
Claudius, and placed first over Samaria, and had been 
governor of the whole country for seven j'ears, which Paul 
in his reply states to be long, and which was in fact longer 
than the administration of any of his three predecessors. 
Tertullus complimented him on the great quietness which the 
nation enjoyed, and the very worthy deeds done through his 
providence. It is true that he had defeated and put to flight 
the Egyptian false prophet, for whom Paul had been lately 
taken, and had cleai-ed the country of robbers ; yet his 
government in other respects was oppressive ; he had pro- 
cured the assassination of Jonathan the high priest, who had 
remonstrated against his tyranny, and he is described by 
Tacitus'^ as exercising royal authority with the spirit of 
a slave, and indulging himself in cruelty and lust. Two 
years after, his enormities drew upon him a formal impeach- 
ment, but he was saved from ruin by the interference of his 
brother Pallas, who had great influence over Nero. The 
Apostle's defence, short as it is, cleared him from the three 
charges brought against him, sedition, heresy, and the 
profanation of the temple. He commenced with declaring 
his readiness to answer before one who had been many years 
judge of the nation, and stated that it was only twelve 
days since he had come up to Jerusalem, and that then his 
sole object was to worship. He vindicated himself from 
having made a disturbance, or given occasion for any, 
by disputing in the temple, the synagogues, or any part 
of the city. He observed, that he was so far from 
having committed an offence, that he came to bring offer- 
ings from foreign countries to his nation, and that some 
Asiatic Jews had found him in the temple in the per- 
formance of legal observances, and neither attended by a 
I' Hist. V. 9. Ann. xii. .50. 


multitude, nor making a tumult ; and he added, that these 
Jews ought to have come if they had any charge against 
him, or that the high priest and his accusers present were 
at liberty to speak. He denied the charge of recommending 
a new religion, declared that he himself also worshipped the 
God of his fathers, and appealed to the same sacred 
writings, believing like them in a general resurrection, 
and that therefore he exercised himself to keep his con- 
science free from offence both towards God and man. This 
privilege of worshipping the God of their fathers had been 
secured to the Jews by many decrees of the Senate and the 
Emperors; unless therefore it could be shown that Paul had 
acted contrary to the Mosaic Law, the charge would 
fall to the ground, whereas he had been seized during 
an actual performance of it. Felix put off the further con- 
sideration of the case till Lysias should come, seeing no 
doubt that the charges could not be substantiated, and yet 
unwilling to give offence by liberating the prisoner. He 
therefore committed him to the custody of a centurion, and 
allowed his friends to visit him ; but though his treatment 
was more liberal, it appears from his speech before Agrippa 
that he was in bonds. Some time after, Felix sent for Paul 
to hear him speak of his religion, and his wife Drusilla, 
herself a Jewess, was present. We can hardly doubt that 
he embraced the opportunity of laying before them the 
Gospel scheme of salvation, but we are only informed that 
Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to 
come; they were therefore probably the main topics of his dis- 
course, and if he could have convinced them that they would 
have to answer at the tribunal of an heavenly Judge for 
their infraction of these two branches of their duty, they 
would have been more disposed to listen to the evidence he 
had to give of a religion which offered pardon to the penitent 
sinner, would bring peace to the awakened conscience, 
and which in justifying the ungodly, taught him in future 


to deny all ungodliness and unrighteousness, and to en- 
deavour to 'perfect holiness in the fear of God. Righteous- 
ness and temperance, that is, self-government, were virtues in 
which we know thatthese persons were peculiarly deficient, for 
their characters are on record in the histories of Tacitus and 
Josephus. Drusilla, daughter to that Herod who beheaded 
James, and therefore Agrippa's sister, had abandoned her 
husband Azizus, a petty Syrian king, and had married 
Felix ; it is supposed by some, in the interval between the 
trial of Paul and this conversation. She and her son by 
Felix perished in the first eruption of Mount Vesuvius, 
which overwhelmed Pompeii and Herculaneum, a minute 
account of which we have from the younger Pliny. The 
bold and faithful exhortation of the Apostle was without 
effect. Drusilla, though acquainted with the holy and 
awful character of Jehovah, as exhibited in the Hebrew 
Scriptures, was unmoved, the heathen husband was alarmed, 
but unlike the trembling jailor, who throwing himself at the 
feet of Paul, enquired what he must do to be saved, he 
stifled his conviction, and showed that his was not that godly 
fear that worketh repentance unto reformation. He there- 
fore abruptly dismissed him, saying, that at a convenient 
season he would send for him. Probably he gave Paul no 
subsequent opportunity of admonishing him, though he sent 
for him frequently. He was so hardened, that his only 
motive was the love of gain, for he hoped to persuade him 
to purchase his release; for though the Apostle was poor, he 
judged from the alms which he had been able to collect, 
that it would be easy to raise among believers a sum for this 
purpose. He therefore still detained him in confinement 
for two years, but at the end of that period, being recalled, 
though he knew his innocence, he left him a prisoner, in the 
hopes of lessening the enmity of the Province against him- 
Festus, the new governor, immediately on his arrival, went 


up to Jerusalem, and the high priest and rulers requested 
him to bring Paul to a trial there, meaning to have him way- 
laid and murdered. He stayed there but ten days, still long 
enough to have decided the cause, but he replied that he 
would try him at Caesarea. The scheme for assassinating 
Paul must have been unknown to him, and we do not see 
what inducement he could have for refusing to gratify the 
leading authorities of the nation, especially as soon after he 
himself had made this very proposal to Paul. Humanly speak- 
ing, Paul's life depended upon his decision, and that decision 
probably was founded upon some apparent trifle, which leads 
us to consider by what invisible springs God carries on 
the movement of events. At Caesarea then the trial was 
opened, when Paul affirmed his innocence, both with respect 
to the Jews and the Romans. The offer was now made him 
of a trial at Jerusalem, but he was aware that he could not 
anticipate a fair one, and therefore he availed himself of his 
privilege as a Roman citizen of appealing to Caesar. An 
appeal from the magistrate to the judgment of the People 
had been granted by Poplicola at the commencement of the 
Republic, and it continued in force under the Emperors, 
notwithstanding the addition to the empire of so many 
states, so that a freeman, at any distance, could remove his 
cause from a provincial tribunal to Rome, the seat of govern- 
ment. The method I have observed towards Christians is 
this, says Pliny, in his celebrated Letter to Trajan : " If they 
confessed, I repeated the question twice again, adding at 
the same time threats ; when if they still persevered, I 
ordered them to be immediately punished. There were 
others also brought before me, possessed with the same 
infatuation, but being citizens of Rome, I ordered them to 
be taken thither." King Agrippa, so called, because the 
Romans had made him Sovereign of the northern part of 
the Holy Land, came with his sister Ccrnice, to pay his 
respects to the new governor, and they as Jews would be 


curious to hear one, whose zeal first against and now in 
support of Christianity, would make him an object of 
interest. It was equally natural that Festus, who was at 
a loss to know what he should write upon the subject of 
the apj)eal, should declare Paul's cause unto the King, 
whom Paul himself allowed to be expert in all customs 
and questions amongst the Jews, and to whom the Romans 
had given the superintendence of the Temple. Paul 
availed himself of the opportunity both of vindicating him- 
self, and of preaching Christianity ; and declared, that the 
only charge against him was the hope of the resurrection 
through the Messiah, of which he was satisfied by ocular 
demonstration when Jesus appeared to him on his way to 
Damascus, and appointed him an Apostle. He proceeded to 
show (probably at length) from Moses and the Prophets, 
that the Messiah, contrary to the expectation of the nation, 
7mist suffer before he entered into glory, and that he was to 
be Saviour not of them only, but of all mankind. The 
effect produced on the governor is shown by the words with 
which he interrupted him, Paul, thou art beside thyself, 
much learning is turning thee to insanity ; and to him it was 
natural that the account of the vision and the doctrine of 
the resurrection of the body, of which perhaps he had never 
heard before, should appear too absurd to be believed by 
any one not disordered in his senses. Paul took care to 
correct him, and to declare that his words were true, and 
those of a man of a sound mind ; and he appealed, as it were, 
to the judgment of the king, who was more competent 
to form an opinion. Agrippa, who had read and believed 
the Scriptures, confessed that he was himself almost 
jiersiiaded to become'' a Christian; and his uneasy sens- 
ations seem to have caused him to rise abruptly, and 

'" eV oxiytfi fie ir^idns. The substantive to be supplied seems to be xp^vos, 
ill a short time thou iciUpemunde me; and those who would render it thus, 
must translate the corresponding reply, loheiher in a short or a long time, 


interrupt a discourse, the consequences of which he dared 
not await ; for he must have known, that if convinced, 
and he declared his conviction, he must, like the prisoner 
before him, submit to contempt and ridicule, perhaps to the 
loss of his office and worldly greatness; and he had not, like 
him, learnt to cou7it all things hut loss for the knoioledge of 
Jesus, not only as a Sovereign, but as a Saviour. But before 
his departure, Paul had time to say, / would to God, that 
not only thou, hut also all that hear me this day, ivere hoth 
almost and altogether such as I am, except these honds. 
Agrippa's judgment on a case exclusively religious must 
have been decisive, and it was that the prisoner might have 
been set free, if he had not appealed to the Emperor. 
This judgment could not liberate him, yet we may reason- 
ably suppose that it contributed to Paul's kind treatment 
by the centurion during the voyage. 

About three years after, Festus died in his government. 
Agrippa had vainly endeavoured to prevent the Jewish 
war, and when it broke out, had the mortification of 
being obliged to take a part in the ruin of his country. 
After the capture of Jerusalem, he retired, with Bernice 
to Rome, and died there twenty years after in his seventieth 
year. Josephus enjoyed his patronage, and has preserved 
two of his letters, bearing testimony to the accuracy of his 
narrative of the war. This was confirmed by the chief 
actors in it, Vespasian and his son Titus. In this work, 
submitted to Agrippa's inspection, he is praised for his 
patriotism and piety; but in the Antiquities written after 
his death, he is described as acting irreligiously in respect 
to the temple, and the arrangement of the service. Ber- 
nice, he says, lived long, as the widow of her uncle Herod, 
the king of Chalcis, till, to remove the suspicion of her 
incestuous intercourse with her brother, she took another 
husband, Polemo, the king of Cilicia. He was tempted 
by her wealth, but soon left her, and renounced Judaism, 
which he had professed in order to please her. She then 


returned to her brother. She had fascinated Titus, who 
promised marriage, but such an union would have lost 
him the attachment and respect of the proud citizens 
of Rome ; and therefore he unwillingly dismissed this 
foreign princess, who was as unwilling to leave him. 

Paul was now delivered to the custody of Junius, a 
centurion of the Augustan cohort, which probably formed 
the guard of the governor. His friends Aristarchus 
and Luke, and others, were allowed to accompany 
him, though the first only is named. There were also 
other prisoners who probably had appealed, since other- 
wise they would have been judged on the spot. There 
was no ship in the port bound for Rome, and therefore 
Julius was obliged to hire an Adramyttian vessel, meaning 
to remove them to any other he should find in the course 
of the voyage. The ship touched at Sidon, and the 
centurion kindly allowed Paul and his companions to 
pass a day with the members of the Church there. The 
wind being contrary, instead of taking a shorter course 
outside Cyprus, they sailed between it and the continent. 
At Myra he found what he wanted, an Alexandrian corn 
ship, which had been driven out of its course, and was 
capacious enough to take them all in ; and we find that 
the whole party, including crew and soldiers, was as many 
as 276. These merchant ships were large ; and we learn 
from Josephus, who embarked about the same time as 
Paul, and was also wrecked in the Adriatic sea, a name 
then not limited to the gulph, that his vessel contained 
near 600 persons. The weather was so unfavourable, that 
they were obliged to sail under Crete, and with difficulty 
found shelter in the Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. 
Sailing was now dangerous, for the fast of Atonement, which 
occurs near the equinox, was past ; and Paul wished 
them to stay where they were, and admonished them of 
the danger not only of the sliip and its cargo, but also of 


their lives. The centurion, as was natural, deferred to 
the opinion of the master and the ship owner. They too 
seem to have given up the notion of continuing the voyage, 
only recommending them to winter in the more commodious 
harbour of Phenice, (Lotro,) about forty miles to the west. 
This expectation was to be disappointed, for suddenly, as 
they were advancing towards it, the ship w^as caught by 
a Levanter, a wdnd blowing tremendously from ENE, 
called EuroclydonS and which threatened to blow them 
upon the African Syrtes. They ran under the small isle 
Clauda [Gozzo], hoisted up the boat, and undergirded 
the ship with ropes, a precaution still occasionally prac- 
tised". Being exceedingly tossed by the tempest, they 
next day lightened it, by casting out the lading, and on 
the third they were obliged with their own hands to throw 
over the tackling. Neither sun nor stars appeared, and 
the compass being then unknown, and the tempest un- 
abated, they gave up all hope. Probably the ship had. 
sprung a leak. Paul now came forward to save them 
from despair. He began with saying. You should have 
hearkened unto me, and not sustained this loss; but he did 
not merely blame them, as too often happens in cases 
of calamity ; he bade them he of good cheer, for the ship 
only should be lost; and to show that he did not speak 
on his own authority, he continued. There stood by me this 
night the Messenger of God, to ivhom I belong, and whom 
I serve, saying. Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought 
before Ccssar : and, lo, God hath given thee all who sail 
with thee. He added, they must be wrecked, and he 
specifies where, on an island, a remarkable prediction, 

' The Vulgate instead of Euroc])Hloii, which seems to mean an east wind 
which raises a tempest, has Euro Aquila. 

" Walters, in Lord Anson's voyage, says of a ship in a storm, they took 
six turns of the cable round her to prevent her opening. See Horace 
i. 14. 


the exact fulfilment of which must have raised their 
estimation of him. About midnight, on the fourteenth da}', 
thej perceived they were near land, and this was con- 
firmed by sounding, and finding first twenty, and then 
fifteen fathoms. Fearing lest we should fall upon rocks, 
they dropped four anchors from the stern. The sailors 
in despair, under the pretence of casting other anchors 
from the foreship, would have lowered the boat to escape, 
but Paul apprized the soldiers of this intention, who in 
consequence let the boat fall off. They had scarcely 
eaten since the storm, and Paul therefore now exhorted 
them to take food, and set them the example ; and they 
too were now of good cheer, for he assured them that 
not a hair of one of them should perish. They then having 
lightened the ship, hy throwing overboard their provisions, 
again lowered the chief sail, and run the ship aground 
in a bay in the island of Melite''. So hard-hearted were 
the soldiers, that they wished to /jm^ the prisoners to death, 

" Malta, according to antiquity and the tradition of the inhabitants ; 
but the patriotism of Father Georgi, a native of Meleda, off the Dalmatian 
coast, claims Melita for his own obscure island. Jacob Bryant and others have 
ingeniojsly supported his hypothesis, and have convinced Dr. Hales, but 
their arguments appear to me insufficient. Bryant endeavours to show, 
that the population of the well-known Melite could not with propriety 
be called Barbarous, forgetting that the Greeks and Romans gave that 
title to all other nations,' and that the Maltese were of Punic origin. 
Diodorus Siculus speaks, as does Cicero, of the inhabitants as rich merchants, 
and of its manufactures; and on examination nothing will be found 
contradictory to their account in this narrative. It is urged, that vipers 
are unknown in this island, but abundant in the other, and this, and the 
ship being in the Adriatic, are the only specious objections to the 
received opinion; but there is little force in the former fact, and the Adriatic, 
it has been shown by quotations from Strabo and authors near the time, 
thjn comprehended the whole sea between Greece and Italy; and their 
fear of the Syrtes may be said to establish this sense. The governor 
appears from Cicero, Verrem iii. 18. to have been subordinate to the 
Prfetor of Sicily ; and an altar has been dug up in this very island 
dedicated to Augustus, by a Roman Knight, who is entitled npwros 
Vli\iTat'j)v Ka\ UarpSiv. 


lest they should escape; but the centurion forbade this, 
out of regard to Paul ; and all on fragments of the ship, 
or on barrels and boxes, came safe to land. The inhabitants 
are called barbarians, because of Punic origin, but were 
under the government of a Roman, who was called the Chief 
TrgcuTog of the island. They treated tliem with kindness, and 
immediately kindling a fire, Paul gathered some sticks to 
keep it up, but a viper out of it fastened upon his hand. 
Their first impression was that he was a murderer, uhom 
though he had escajjed the storm, Divine justice would not 
suffer to live. They expected to see him drop down dead, 
but as he cast it off and felt no harm, they passed into 
the other extreme, and pronounced him to be a god. 
Paul and his friends were courteously entertained three 
days by Publius, the chief, and he repaid his kindness 
by curing his father of a fever and bloody flux. They 
remained in the island three months, and Paul performed 
many miracles, which though we do not hear of their pro- 
ducing their desired eifect, at least excited gratitude, for 
they honoured their benefactor and his companions with 
many honours, and on their departure laded them with 
necessary articles. Their departure we may presume was 
as early as the weather permitted, for they were embarked 
in the Castor and Pollux, another Alexandrian vessel, 
which had wintered in the island. They crossed over to 
Syracuse, where they remained three days ; they then sailed 
for Rhegium, and the south wind springing up, arrived 
at the ordinary port Puteoli. Here the}^ found brethren, 
and were permitted to pass a week, and then proceeded 
to their place of destination. It was about three years 
after writing his Epistle to the Romans, that Paul's 
prayer to be allowed to visit them was granted, but 
in a manner different from his expectations, for he 
entered the capital of the empire as a prisoner. The 
brethren, to show the interest they took in him, came to meet 


him, some as far as Appii Forum, fifty-one miles at the 
junction of that way, with the road to Puteoli where he had 
landed ; and others at the Three Taverns, thirty-three miles 
distant, where he would disembark if he came by the canal ; 
and when he had this testimony of their affection, he thanked 
God, and took courage. The other prisoners, including, we 
presume, Aristarchus, were given up to the captain of the 
guard, but no doubt, through the recommendation of the 
centurion Julius, Paul was permitted to dwell in his own 
hired lodging, under the custody of a guard, to whose 
arm one of his own was fastened by a single chain, 
which was an honourable species of detention, for it 
had been that even of king Agrippa. On the third day 
after his arrival, he sent for the principal persons of his 
nation, and acquainted them with his prosecution and his 
appeal. He assured them, that in vindicating himself he 
had no intention of accusing his own people, adding, that 
he was bound with his chain only for the hope of Israel. 
They answered, that they had received no information from 
Judaea concerning him, but understanding that lie was of a 
sect every where spoken against, they desired to hear him. 
He passed the appointed day from morning to evening in 
proving and explaining Christianity from the books of 
Moses and the Prophets. Upon some, his discourse pro- 
duced the desired effect ; others believed not ; and they 
departed with great discigreement among themselves ; the 
Apostle taking leave of them with that solemn warning so 
often applied in the New Testament from the prophecy of 
Isaiah, denouncing incurable judicial blindness and hard- 
ness of heart upon those who wilfully reject the truth. He 
continued preaching the Gospel with all confidence, no man 
forbidding him, and with this sentence terminates the inspired 
biography of this eminent Apostle. No doubt the re- 
mainder of his life was as actively and usefully employed as 
the beginning, which it has pleased God should be recorded. 


but it can be only imperfectly supplied from a few scattered 
hints in his own Epistles, or the doubtful traditions of eccle- 
siastical authors. His accusers were satisfied with his re- 
moval from Judasa, or felt that they would have failed in 
carrying on their prosecution at Caesar's judgment seat, for 
they did not even write to their brethren in the capital 
upon the subject. He then, as he told them he in- 
tended, turned to the Gentiles, proclaiming to them the 
kingdom of God, and the things which concern the Lord 
Jesus Christ, receiving all that came unto him. These 
concluding words seem to imply that he was not allowed to 
go out; but if he experienced some restraint himself, God's 
word was not bound, for there were even brethren in Caesar's 
household ; and his bonds were manifest in all other places, 
even in the Prsetorium, or quarters of the Emperor's 
guard, so that many of the brethren, probably from his mild 
treatment, which could hardly be called imprisonment, be- 
came much more bold to preach the word without fear ; and 
though some acted from unworthy motives, yet we learn 
from himself, that without regarding the motive, he rejoiced 
in the eiFcct that Christ was preached. During this deten- 
tion, his distant converts were not unmindful of him, and 
their messengers were in return the bearers of letters from 
him. His bonds contrary to expectation had fallen out to 
the furtherance of the Gospel at Rome, and will, we may 
add, promote it to the end of time ; for we owe to his com- 
pulsory residence his Epistles to the Ephesians, the Colos- 
sians, Philemon, Philippians, and probably that to the 

He had previously been confined about the same length 
of time at Caesarea, but none of his letters during that 
period, if he were permitted to write, have been preserved. 
If we date these Epistles towards the close of his detention, 
there is an interval of about five years between them and 
that to the Romans. According to Jerome, they are com- 


posed with peculiar rapture, which he ascribes to the ex- 
traordinary consolation afforded him under his trying 
situation ; and doubtless his heart was much enlarged to- 
wards his friends, by their perseverance in the faith, and their 
kind anxiety about himself. 



We will begin with that to the Church of Ephesus, the 
capital of the Proconsular province of Asia, by which 
term we are to understand not the Asia Minor of our 
geographers, a much more recent denomination, but a 
government composed of ^olia, Ionia, and part of Phrygia, 
which was occupied by a Grecian population, and contained 
the seven Churches, addressed by our Lord in the Apo- 
calypse. Ephesus was the most commercial city of the pro- 
vince, being then what Smyrna is now, and then too a port, 
though through the depositions of its river it has become 
an inland town. The Apostle speaks of the Ephesians as 
having walked according to the power of the prince of the air ; 
and commentators imagine, that they can trace allusions both 
to the curious arts which they had abjured, and to the temple, 
which was the ornament and boast of the city. There 
may be some foundation for these ingenious remarks, but 
they seem to be carried too far ; and we know that there 
was another temple much more frequently in the Apostle's 
thoughts, that of the true God at Jerusalem, which would 
supply him with much more appropriate metaphors. This 
suited far better the subject of his Epistle, the union into 
one Church of Jew and Gentile; and in the most import- 
ant of these passages he expressly fixes it, by describing 


the partition wall, which separated, in that hovise of prayer 
for all nations, the proselyte from the natural descendants 
of Abraham 1, as broken down by Christ, so that the 
Ephesians were now built upon the foundation of the 
Apostles and Prophets'', together with the Jews, for a ha- 
bitation for God through the Spirit, Jesus Christ himself 
being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly 
framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord. 

The Epistle is universally admitted to be genuine, but 
there has been much discussion as to the Church addressed. 
Most manuscripts, and all the ancient versions, have in the first 
verse, at Ephesus; yet distinguished critics, as Mill, Wetstein, 
and Paley, have argued, that it was written to that of 
Laodicea. They rest their opinion on the assertion of 
Marcion, a heretic of the second century, and upon a 
passage in St. Basil' ; but Tertullian censures the first 
as a private interpretation in opposition to the testimony 
of the Church, and Michaelis shows that the other has 
been misunderstood. It is also contended, that these ex- 
pressions*, Wherefore I also after I heard of your faith — 
if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, 
which is given to me to you-ward^\ — and, but ye have 
not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard him, 
and have been taught by him.", — are only suitable to- persons 
whom he had not seen. The first, however, might have 
been used with equal propriety to the Ephesians, as it is 
to the Colossians, especially as a considerable time had 
elapsed since he had visited them, and slye, if, might as well 
have been translated since, as it is in other places. It 
has been asked if the Epistle were designed for the 
Ephesians, why it contains no salutation ? The reply is, 

1 Ephes. ii. 14. 

■■ Not the pio]}hets of the Old Testament, but those afterwards named 
among officers of the Church. 

• Lardner, iv. c. 4. ' Ephes. i. 14. 

" Ephes. iii. 2. » Ephes. iv. 21. 


that to have enumerated all the members of such a Church 
of note would have been tedious, and to have singled out 
a few would have mortified those omitted. There are none 
in the Epistle to the Galatians, and the many in that to 
the Romans, whom he had not then seen, probably were 
all the individuals he knew there. These arguments as- 
sume that he had not visited Laodicea, an assumption 
not as I conceive borne out by the expression in the 
Epistle to the Colossians. They would not perhaps have 
been so much insisted upon, had not Paul, in his Epistle 
to the Colossians"^, directed it to be read also in the Church 
of Laodicea, and that they should read the Epistle from 
Laodicea. Now that Epistle, if he ever wrote one, has 
been lost, unless it be this ; and though eminent com- 
mentators are ready to allow that it has perished, such 
a supposition appears to others most improbable, for 
this was no private lettei', but like all Scripture inspired 
and profitable, being in the writer's judgment no less 
worthy of preservation, than that to the Colossians; for^ 
he desires that each may be read in the congregation of 
the other city. The objection indeed vanishes altogether, 
if, as observed by Chrysostom, we understand by the ex- 
pression, a letter not to, but from, Laodicea. This is open 
to serious objections ; for though the Apostle's letters were 
worthy to be read, as they have ever been, in all congregations 
of believers, it seems extraordinary that he should give the 
same order respecting a letter from the Laodiceans. This can 
only be explained upon the supposition, that it would render 
his Epistle to the Colossians more intelligible to them ; 
yet it does not, like those to the Corinthians, refer to 
any previous enquiries, and the opinion seems to me 
to be untenable, because, though it is favoured by the 
natural sense of the word from, the structure of the 
sentence puts the two Epistles precisely on the same 
™ Colossians iv. ' Colossians iv. 16. 

T 2 


authority. All difficulty will be removed, if we suppose 
the Epistle to the Ephesians to be also addressed to the 
Laodiceans ; in fact, a circular to the Churches of Asia, and 
receiving its title from the most important one, the home 
of Tychicus, who conveyed it, and the port at which 
he would land. The addresses to the saints which are 
at Ephesus, and to the faithful, may imply as much ; and 
the inscription of those to the Galatians, and of the second 
to the Corinthians, declare that they were designed not 
for the capitals only, but the whole province. This would 
justify addressing as strangers those for whom it was 
designed, since he would be personally unknown to the 
majority. Still it may be urged, if this be a circular, why 
should he also have written to Colosse ; this I think may 
be explained by Paul's having occasion to address Phile- 
mon, and by his not liking to write to him without writing 
at the same time to the Church over which he presided ; 
and because the errors against which he wrote in that 
Epistle prevailed more there than in the other Asiatic 
Chui'ches, and because the Colossians had sent a messenger 
to enquire after him. To us, however, it is immaterial to 
what body of believers the Epistle now under consideration 
was addressed, since its authenticity was never questioned, 
and therefore it is equally written for the edifying of 
Christians of every country and age. 

During Paul's detention at Rome, the Philippians and 
Colossians (and perhaps other Churches of his planting) 
had sent to enquire after his condition. Tychicus had 
seemingly been commissioned for this purpose by the 
Ephesians, and we may presume him to have been one 
of their body, because he had been appointed, together 
with the Ephesian Trophimus, to accompany Paul with 
the collection of alms made for the believers in Jerusalem, 
and Paul had heard about that time from some one of 
" their faith and love." 


At Corinth, there had been schisms and scandalous prac- 
tices. In Galatia, erroneous views of fundamental doctrine ; 
hut the Ephesians stood fast in the Gospel, and adorned it 
with practical holiness. Delighted with this favourable 
report, and transported by the contemplation of God's 
unsearchable wisdom in devising and accomplishing the 
justification and sanctification of sinners through a scheme, 
which secures his justice while it magnifies his mercy, Paul 
gives utterance to the counsel of God, (to use the 
w^ords of Grotius,) in terms more sublime than those of 
man's language, suitable to the sublimity of the subject ; 
and Witsius^ declares, that this divine Epistle exhibits 
the power and meaning of the Holy Spirit, and compares it 
to a flame of divine love and a spring of living water ; and 
their praises are fully borne out by the testimony of Chry- 
sostom and Theophylact. Dean Alford, who cites the 
passages at length, adds, that in consequence this Epistle is 
by far the most difficult of all St. Paul's writings. All on 
the surface, he continues, is smooth, and flows on unques- 
tioned by the untheological reader ; but when we begin to 
enquire why thought succeeds to thought, and one cumbrous 
parenthesis to another ; depths under depths disclose them- 
selves, wonderful systems of parallel allusions, every word 
the more we search approves itself as set in its exact 
logical place, we see every phrase contributing by its own 
similar organization, and articulated to the carrying out of 
the organic whole. But this result is not won without 
much labour of thought, without repeated and minute 
laying together of portions and expressions, without be- 
stowing on single words and phrases, and their succession 
and arrangement, as much study as would suffice for whole 
sections of the more exoteric Epistles. The object, accord- 
ing to Alford, is to describe the origin, work, and scope of 
the Church, as originating in the will of the Father, as 
accomplished by the satisfaction of the Son, applied by the 
J Melitemata, p. 192. 


Holy Spirit. He has thus stated in his notes the doc- 
trine of the Church: The Father in his eternal love has 
chosen us to holiness, 4; ordained us to sonship, 5; 
hestowed grace on us in the beloved, 6. In the Son we 
have redemption according to the riches of his grace, 7 ; 
knowledge of the secret of his will, 8, 9; inheritance 
under him the one head, 10 — 12; through the Spirit we 
are sealed, by hearing the word of salvation, 14; and by 
receiving the earnest of the inheritance to the redemption 
of the purchased possession. 

The first three chapters are regarded as doctrinal, the 
others as practical ; yet from the indissoluble union in the 
Apostle's mind, of faith and works as its results, the 
doctrine is so stated as to be practical, and duties are 
connected with motives, and the reasons for which they 
are inculcated. The scope of the Epistle is to show, 
that though there had been a difference between Jewish and 
Gentile believers, the former acknowledging Jesus as 
their expected Messiah, while the latter were ignorant 
of the promises, and alienated from God, both were now 
equally partakers of the same faith, and every essential 
difference being abolished, had become one body under 
one head. Special doctrines are incidentally mentioned, 
but are either adduced to explain or enforce duties. 
The practical moral is peace and union between Gentile 
and Jewish converts ^ 

Paul commences with an animated eff'usion of gratitude 
to tlie God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, for having 
blessed them, including himself and other Jewish believers, 
with all spiritual blessing, closing with a prayer, consisting 
of a single sentence, running through several verses to the 
end of the chapter. It is full of matter, and every ex- 
pression is well weighed and effective ; and on examination 
it will be found to be no mere burst of feeling, but 
that the whole is artificial, arranged under the three heads 
'• Francke's Guide to reading the Scriptures, translated by Jacquet. 


of God's blessing, predestinating, and making known, and 
winding up the clauses with the declaration, that it is 
according to his purpose, and to the praise of his glory. 

Blessed, he writes, he the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, loho has blessed us loith every spiritual blessing 
in heavenly places % for he has chosen us in him before the 
foundation of the world; that we might he holy and unspotted 
before him in love, having predestinated us to sonship, 
through Jesus Christ: according to the good pleasure of his 
will, to the praise of his glorious favour, with which he has 
favoured us for the saJce of the beloved (Son^), iii whom tve 
have redemption, that is, the remission of sijis, through his 
blood, according to the riches of his favour, in ivhich he 
abounded to us in all prudence and wisdom, having made 
knotun to tcs the secret of his will, ivhich he foreordained 
in him, {that in the fulness of time he might bring all 
beings in heaven and in earth under the sovereignty 
of Christ,) in whom we also have obtained an inheritance, 
having been predesti?iated according to the counsel of his 
will, in order that ive (Jews) who first believed in Christ 
should be to the glory of his favour; in whom ye (Gentiles) 
also, {having heard the true word, the saving Gospel,) 
believing have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 
which is the earnest of our inheritance, for the redemption 
of the purchased possession, (by the resurrection of all his 
people,) to the glory of his favour. On this account he 
does not cease giving thanks for them, making mention 
of them in his prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, the glorious Father, should give them the spirit of 
wisdom and revelation, for the knowledge of him, the eyes 
of their heart being opened, that ye may understand the 

" The noim is supplied by some with places, by others with things. 
The former is required in v. 20. and is, I conceive, most suitable to all. 

*• In the corresponding passage in the Colossians it is Son of his love; 
and here the Vulgate renders it Filio suo, according to the Tt^ aiirod of 
some Mss. 


hope of his calling, and the riches of his glorious inheritance 
for the saints, and the exceeding greatness of his power 
towards us, who believe acco)-ding to the working of his 
powerful strength, which he loorked in Christ, having raised 
him from the dead, and seated him in heavenly places^ 
high above all government, authority, power, and lordship, 
and every honoured name, not only i7i this, but in the 
coming dispensation, and has placed all things under his 
feet, and given him to be head over all things to the 
Church, which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth 
all (his members) with all (their gifts and graces). 

Such language is too exalted and rapturous, if it mean 
no more than the admission of the Gentiles into the 
visible Church. It must, I conceive, refer to their election 
to everlasting life, and consequent perseverance in holiness ; 
not, however, to be interpreted so rigidly, as to affirm 
that every member of the Ephesian Church was chosen 
by a particular decree, and could never fall from grace, 
for such a view would be inconsistent with the cautious 
and reproofs scattered through the Epistle. But I con- 
clude, to use Doddridge's words, that the Apostle speaks 
of whole Societies as consisting of Saints, because of 
their predominant character, and he had reason to be- 
lieve, in the judgment of charity, that the greater part 
were really such. I may add, that the proportion of true 
Christians then must have greatly exceeded their number 
in any age since the establishment of Christianity, since 
reputation, custom, the love of gain, and the fear of 
singularity, and in some places of persecution, make up 
a large professing Church, which would be marvellously 
thinned if worldly gains and honours were all thrown 
into the scale of unbelief. The earnest of the Spirit, 
and their being holy and without blame, denote them 
to be accepted in the beloved; and though he might 
have prayed for them, if sinners, which he expressly 


states they had been in time past, he would not have 
given thanks on their account, if he had not first heard 
of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and their love 
unto all the Saints, 

He further excites their gratitude, by contrasting their 
present state of reconciliation with God through the cross, 
with that of their death in trespasses and sins, (in which 
they formerly walked, according to a worldly life, and the 
will of the prince who has the dominion of darkness, and 
still works effectually in the disobedient. Among whom we 
all, both Jews and Gentiles, formerly lived, fulfilling our 
fleshly desires, and were also like them, the children of 
wrath:) hut God, who is rich in mercy, has raised both from 
death, to live together ivith Christ, and made us sit together 
with him in heavenly places, that he might in succeeding ages 
show the exceeding riches of his favour, in his kindness towards 
us in Christ Jesus. For hy favour ye have been saved through 
faith, and this salvation is God's gift, not acquired hy loorks, 
that no man may boast; for we are his workmanship, created in 
Christ Jesus for good works, to the performance of which God 
has before prepared us. Remember that ye were formerly 
carnal Gentiles, whom the carnally circumcised, the Jews, 
called uncircumcised, and at that season ye were apart from 
Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to 
the covenanted promises, not having hope (of the resurrection), 
and without God in the world; hut now in Christ Jesus, ye 
who were formerly afar off, have become nigh by the blood of 
Christ. For He is our peace, making both Jews and Gentiles 
one, by breaking down the middle wall of partition (between 
their courts), having through his body abolished the enmity, 
that is, the ceremonial law, that through himself he might 
make the two into one new ma7i, so making peace, and might 
reconcile both in one body to God, through the cross, having 
by it slain the enmity, and announced peace to you, the far 
off, and to the Jeivs, the near. So that now ye are no longer 


strangers and foreigners, hut the felloic -citizens of the saints, 
and of the family of God, being built upon the foundation of 
the apostles and teachers, Jesus Christ himself being the 
chief corner stone, upon which the lohole building being fitly 
constructed rises up into a holy temple for the Lord (to 
officiate in), on whom ye also are built up together through the 
Spirit into an habitation for God. 

He next earnestly entreats them, as Clnist's prisoner for 
having preached salvation to them Gentiles not to be dis- 
heartened by his sufferings on their account, and prays for 
their growth in grace in this energetic language. On this 
account, / Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 
(as I briefly wrote to you before, by reading which you 
might understand my knowledge of this secret, which in 
other generations had not been made known, as it has been now 
revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the Gentiles should be 
fellow-heirs and partakers of God's promise iji Christ, of 
which I became a minister according to God's gracious gift, 
according to the energy of his power. Gratitude constrains 
him now for a moment to divert to the special mercy shewn 
to himself. To me less than the" least of all saints is this 
favour given, that I should announce to the Gentiles the 
unsearchable riches of Christ, and to explain to all men the 
scheme of this secret, which had been hidden from preceding 
ages in God, who had created all things in Jesus Christ, that 
now his diversified wisdom might be made knoion to the 
heavenly powers to the Church, according to the purpose of 
former ages, which he has effected in Christ, through whom 
we have this boldness of speech, and confidence through 
faith in him. On this account he resumes, / boio the knees 
to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the lohole 
family in heaven and earth is named, that he may grant you 

« 'EKaxKTTOTepos. This comparative from a comparative seems to have 
Ijoen formed by Paul. Another strong derivative from the same word 
tKaxiffTSraTos is cited by Wetstein. 


according to Ms abundant glory to he strengthened through 
the Spirit in the inner vian ; that through faith, Christ may 
dwell in your hearts ,• that ye, being rooted and grounded in 
love, may be able with all saints to comprehend the length, 
breadth, height, and depth'^, and to understand Christ's love, 
which exceeds knowledge, so that ye may be filled with the 
whole fulness^ of God. To him be glory in the Church to all 
the generations of the age of ages. 

He now as the Lord's prisoner exhorts them to walk 
luorthy of their vocation, with humility, gentleness, and long- 
suffering, bearing loith one another from love; studying through 
the bond of peace to keep the unity of the Spirit, as they have 
been called to one hope. There is one Lord, one Faith, one 
Baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, 
(worketh) through all, and is in lis all. But to each of us is 
given this favour in proportion to Christ's gift. Therefore, 
he says, ascending, he led captive those who had before 
made others captive. He observes that this ascent implies 
a previous descent, and that Christ had ascended high above 
all the heavens, that he might fill all the members of his 
body with suitable gifts, thus appointing and qualifying the 
several ministers whom he specifies for the buildAng up the 
body of Christ, (the Church,) till all as grown men come to an 
unity of faith, being no more as children tossed upon the 
waves, and driven about by every wind of doctrine, by the 
tricks of men and their studied plans of deceit, but acting 
with sincerity and love, let us grow up to Him who is in all 
things the Head, from whom the whole body by that which 
every joint supplies ijicreases to the enlarging of itself through 
love. He charges them that they should no longer walk as 

<J It has been suggested that yv^aem has slipped out of its proper place 
after v^os, and that the passage ought to be rendered height of knowledge 
and S'iir2nissing love. 

^ The whole fulness of the Godhead, eeJrTjToy, is said to dwell in Christ. 
This prayer is for the whole fulness of God. The former seems to refer to 
the Divine essence, the latter to divine qualities. 


the other heathen, who being alienated from the life of God, 
and being past feeling, have given themselves over to lascivious- 
ness with greediness ; but as they have not so learned Christ, 
hut have been taught the truth as it is in Jesus, they should 
put on the new man, created according to the image of God in 
righteousness and true hoVmess. Wherefore they should show 
themselves renewed, by putting off lying, and speaking truth, 
as members of one another, and not by immoderate anger give 
room to the devil to tempt them to commit sin, but let 
their vi^rath not outlive the day. He who had stolen, was of 
course to cease from stealing, but he is admonished to labour, 
and that not only to maintain himself honestly, but that he 
may be able to distribute to him. who has need. Their con- 
versation is not to be corrupt, but edifying, not grieving the 
Holy Spirit, by whom they are sealed until the day of re- 
demption. They must renounce bitterness, and wrath, and 
evil speaking, with all malice, and be tender-hearted, and for- 
giving, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven them. Be 
therefore imitators of God as dear children, and loalk in love, 
as Christ has loved us, and has given himself to us as an 
acceptable peace offering and sin offering. Neither forni- 
cation then, nor any uncleanness, is ever to be named among 
them, as becomes saints, nor indecent or foolish talking, or 
double meanings, but innocently pleasing discourse, because 
they know that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous 
man, who is as bad as an idolater, has any lot in the kingdom 
of Christ our God. Let no man deceive you luith vain words, 
(as if such conduct were indifferent,) for these things bring 
down upon the disobedient the wrath of God. Be ye not 
partakers with them, for ye were once darkness, but noiu ye 
are light in the Lord; lualk therefore as children of the light, 
approving ivhat is pleasing to him; and having no fellowship 
with the unfruitful works of darkness, but reproving them. See 
then that ye walk accurately as wise men, redeeming time : 
and he warns them against drunkenness, in ivhich there is 


excess, and desires that they should be filled with the Spirit, 
which would prompt them, instead of singing lewd songs 
like the heathen, to make melody in their hearts to the Lord, 
by joining together in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, 
always thanking, through Jesus Christ, God the Father for all 
things. He now in general recommends mutual submission 
in the fear of God, and then specifies the relative duty of 
wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters; 
and it is remarkable that he should enlarge upon these 
practical points so fully in this, and the similar Epistle to 
the Colossians, which teach so experimentally the sublimest 
doctrine. In explaining these duties, he refers to Christ as 
our rule, and as the strongest motive. Thus in exacting 
obedience from wives in every thing in which it is lawful, for 
he qualifies it by saying, as to the Lord, his argument is, that 
the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of 
the Church. And, husbands are to love their wives, as Christ 
loved the Church. That love induced him to give up himself 
for her benefit, describing his people under the image of a 
bride, cleansed, and presented as beautiful, free from spot or 
wrinkle, and without blemish. Husbands are to love their 
wives as their own selves ; and referring to the formation of 
the first woman out of the first man, and the consequent 
inference that men should leave their parents to form this 
closer and endearing connection, the Apostle regards this 
emblem of the union of Christ and his Church as a great 
secret, but he takes care to add, that it is this allegorizing 
which is the great secret" ; for he adds immediately, I speak 
concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless, let each 
love his own wife as himself, and let the wife take care that 

' Mwo-T^jptoi/ is properly a secret, which once revealed is perfectly in- 
telligible ; whereas a viystery when made known is only partially under- 
stood. This admission of the Gentiles into the Church is an instance of 
the first, the doctrine of the Trinity of the second. The Eleusinian 
Mysteries were no mysteries to the initiated. 


she reverence her husband. The comparison illustrates the 
writer's ardent grateful love, for the introduction of his 
Master's name causes him to digress and expatiate upon his 
love to the Church, w^hich he impressively blends with his 
subject. In the shorter Epistle to Colosse, this allegory is 
omitted, and the subject is consequently briefly dismissed. 
It is in such frequent inferences from the Saviour's love, 
that the teaching of Paul essentially diflfers from that of the 
mere moralist. His system of ethics appears at first sight 
less philosophical ; but the experience of ages has proved, 
that the Pauline method is more efficacious, even on 
reasoners, and tells on the masses on whom ethical reasoning 
is thrown away. Children are expected to obey on account 
of the commandment, the first to which a temporal promise 
is attached, and it may be added, the only one of a positive 
character ; and parents are not to provoke their children to 
wrath by severe treatment, hut to bring them up in wholesome 
discipline, and to teach them true doctrine. Slaves are to 
obey their masters, not only as in their sight, hut as to Christ, 
as well as with fear and trembling, and with good will, 
knowing that the Lord will reward the good works alike of 
the bond or free ; and masters are to forbear threatening, 
knowing that they too have a Master in heaven, with whom 
there is no respect of persons. 

Paul closes the Epistle with exhorting the Ephesians to 
be strong in the Lord, and in the poiver of his might; and as 
their contest is to be not with men, but with the spiritual 
powers of darkness, who rule this world, they must protect 
themselves against the crafty method of the devil, hy putting 
on the whole armour of God, that they may resist in the evil 
day, and, being thus fully equipped, stand. He particularizes 
the articles of this divine panoply ; Truth is to protect the 
loins; Justice is to be the breastplate; i\ie feet are to be shod 
with the Gospel of peace ; and, in addition, they are to be 
protected by a large shield of faith, which will not only 


repel, but quench the fiery darts of the wicked one; and for a 
helmet, the expectation of salvation^ The only offensive 
weapon is a sword, the word of God; but in this contest he 
is to call for higher aid by unremitting prayer, and that not 
for self alone, but for all the saints, and especially for 
the Apostle, that though a prisoner in a chain, he may be 
emboldened to speak as he ought, and to make known the 
secret of the Gospel. 

He ends with peace and love from the Father and the Son 
to the brethren, and that favour may rest on all who love 
the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure imperishable love^. 



Laodicea, Colosse, and Hierapolis were situated near 
each other in the great Phrygia. To the first two, St. 
Paul had addressed letters ; and in that to the Colossians, 
he speaks of Epaphras's zeal for those also of Hierapolis, 
as well as of Laodicea, and of the great conflict which 
he himself had for the Christians of the latter place. A 
few years after, that is, in the tenth year of Nero, they 
were all destroyed by an earthquake, but were rebuilt. 
Laodicea, the capital, forty miles from Ephesus, like that, 
was one of the seven Churches addressed by our Lord 
through St. John. The desolation of both is entire, but 

f The Messiah is described by Isaiah (lix. 17.) as putting on righteous- 
ness for a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head. And 
St. Paul bad already advised the Thessalonians (1 Thess, v. 8.) to piit on the 
breast2)late of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. It is 
remarkable that the Greek rendered ivord is not \6yos but prj/ua, the former 
being more suitable for the personal word. 

8 The original acpdapaia is literally rendered by the Vulgate incorrv2Jtio7ie, 
and seems, though sincerity be included, to refer rather to its enduring 


the ruins of Laodicea are more considerable, comprehending 
an amphitheatre erected about that very time. The site 
of Colosse is marked by Herodotus % who places it on 
the south of the Maeander, near where the Lycus begins 
to run under ground, and this enables us to fix it at 
the modern village of Khomnass, under mount Cadmus. 
Some argue that the Colossians had not been visited 
by St. Paul, because he speaks of their faith and love 
from report; yet this appears to be an unfounded sup- 
position, for he uses the very same term respecting the 
Ephesians; we must recollect also, that he had not seen 
them for five years, and had recently had intelligence 
respecting them from Epaphras. Strong passages too may 
be quoted, indicating personal acquaintance ; as, according 
to the dispensation of God given unto me on your account — 
tJiough in the flesh I am absent, yet in sjni-it I am with 
you — and all things concerning me, Tychicus will declare 
unto you, whom I have seiit for this very purpose, that he 
may know the state of your affairs, and comfort your hearts, 
being the very same words in which he names them to the 
Ephesians. This is confirmed by the salutations at the 
close, and I conceive by the Epistle to Philemon, who 
was resident there, and certainly the convert of the Apostle. 
On the other side may be quoted, I would that ye knew what 
great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for 
as many as have 7iot seen my face in the flesh. This does not 
appear to me to be decisive, and I think that if he had not seen 
them, he would have assigned some special reason for writing 
to them. When in addition to this we consider that it was 
St. Paul's custom to visit the principal cities in a province, 
and that he twice passed through Phrygia, there seems no 
reason to doubt that he was the founder of the Church of 
Colosse. As he includes Timothy in the superscription, we 
conclude that he had been his fellow-labourer on that occa- 
sion. His name does not occur, as might have been expected, 

« Hist. vii. 30. 


in the Epistle to the Ephesians ; hence it should seem, 
that he was not then with the Apostle. The interval, how- 
ever, between writing the two must have been short, for 
both were sent by Tychicus, and, as Locke observes, they 
seem to be written at the very same time, in the same 
run and warmth of thought, so that the very same ex- 
pressions yet fresh in his mind are repeated in many places ; 
and the form, phrases, matter, and all the parts quite through, 
do so perfectly correspond, that the one is very fit to 
give light to the other. The similarity is of course more 
striking in the original than in the translation, which often 
uses synonymous instead of the same words. 

In these two Epistles, the divinity of the Saviour is 
brought forth more frequently and more distinctly than 
in any other, by the offices and titles assigned to him. 
But in enlarging on his preeminence, there is a considerable 
variation, and even when the same sentences occur in both, 
they introduce different conclusions. Alford accounts for 
this diversity by observing, that in writing both, the Apostle's 
mind was in the same general frame, full of the glories of 
the person of Christ, and the consequent glorious privileges 
of his Church, which was built upon and vitally knit to 
him. This mighty subject, as he looked with indignation 
on the beggarly system of meats and drinks, and hallowed 
days, and angelic mediators, to which false teachers en- 
deavoured to bring down the Colossians, rose before hian in 
all its length and breadth and height ; yet as writing to thevi 
he was confined to one portion of it, and to setting forth 
that portion controversially, could not, consistently with 
the effect which he wished to produce, dive into the depths 
of the divine counsels in Christ then. In their case the 
Spirit bound him to a lower region, and would not suffer him 
to lose sight of the beware lest any man spoil you, which forms 
the ground-tone of this Epistle : so that while speaking 
of the majesty of Christ's person, so essential to his aim, 


the duty of marking the contrast to those who wished to 
deceive them cramps and confines him. But to the 
Ephesians, where if the same baneful influences were 
making themselves felt, it was not so as to call for 
special treatment, he might, without being bound to 
narrow his energies evermore into one line of controversial 
direction, lay forth their foundation in the counsel of the 
Father, their course in the satisfaction of the Son, their per- 
fection in the work of the Spirit. Thus while we have in 
that to the Colossians, system defined, language elaborated, 
and antithesis and logical power on the surface ; in that to 
the Ephesians we have the free outpouring of the earnest 
spirit, to the mere surface reader, without system ; but 
to him that delves down into it, in system far deeper 
and more recondite and more exquisite : the greatest and 
most heavenly work of one, whose very imagination was 
peopled with things in heaven, and whose fancy was 
rapt into visions of God. Thus both Epistles sprang 
out of one Inspiration ; that to the Colossians first, as 
the protest to be delivered and the caution to be given ; 
then that to the Ephesians, arising out of it, but sur- 
passing it ; so that in both we have many of the same 
thoughts uttered in the same words, and many phrases 
peculiar to them, yet used in a different connection. 
It is not uncommon with St. Paul, when rising into 
majestic thoughts, to rise also into unusual or long and 
compounded words ; and it is this ag/xvorijj, dignity of 
controversial tone, even more than the necessity of the 
subject handled, which causes this Epistle to abound 
so much with peculiar words and phrases. Alford enu- 
merates as many as thirty-two. The main object of both 
is the declaration of the secret which had been hidden 
from past ages, but was now revealed, and for declaring 
which at Jerusalem the writer was in bonds, namely, that 
Christ was not only the Saviour of the Jews, but the 


hope of glory also to the Gentiles. He had heard, however, 
from Epaphras, of certain teachers among them who sought 
to make them their prey, by grafting the Oriental or 
Gnostical philosophy upon the Gospel, and by teaching 
the necessity of keeping the ritual law ; and therefore he 
takes occasion to warn them against those who, by a specious 
philosophy, or by superstitious practices, attempted to se- 
duce them from Christ, in whom dwelt, not typically but 
substantially, the whole fulness of the Deity, and from 
whom they, according to their capacity, were filled with 
whatever was necessary to salvation, without needing any 
addition from philosophy or the law. The Apostle is thus 
led to enlarge more than in other Epistles, and in different 
phraseology, upon the supreme dignity of Christ, and the 
completeness of the redemption which we have in him ; so 
that we have no need to apply to angels to perfect a medi- 
ation which is already complete, and no need of works of 
any description, whether legal ceremonies or bodily auste- 
rities, to procure forgiveness, already obtained through his 
voluntary sacrifice of himself upon the cross, the instrument 
of his triumph over evil spirits. In warning the Colossians 
against the delusions of philosophy, which he allows had a 
show of wisdom, St. Paul plainly tells them not to be 
cheated of their reward, but to hold the Head, that is, 
to cleave with simplicity to Christ. The source of these 
errors was a humility which was only pretended, for these 
teachers were vainly puffed up with a fleshly mind, while 
they sought acceptance with God through any other 
mediator than Him, or by any other means than faith. 
Here we find the commencement of these errors, which 
notwithstanding this warning accumulated from age to age, 
till at last the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel were 
almost buried under a heap of human inventions, and 
penances, and masses, and the mediation of saints, were, 
at least in a degree, substituted as grounds of acceptance. 


Such is the error of Roman Catholics: and too many 
Protestants fall into another, similar in reality though 
differing in appearance, for they too have often been led 
away after the tradition of men, from a simple implicit 
reliance upon Christ. While the former deem it too pre- 
sumptuous to go boldly at once, through the sole Mediator 
between God and man, to the throne of grace, and solicit 
the intercession of departed fellow Christians, for which 
Scripture affords no warrant ; the latter, instead of coming 
to Christ directly in order to be cleansed from their sins, 
endeavour to reform themselves in a degree first, in order 
to entitle them to his assistance. This, however, Paul here 
as in other places condemns, declaring, that in Christ are 
laid up all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, that is, 
of true religion, and among them is sanctification no less 
than justification, he having both reconciled us to his Father, 
and by destroying him who had the poioer of death, cleansed 
his people from their sins, as well as forgiven them, and 
raised them from captivity to their passions, a state of 
moral death, to a life of holiness and virtue, by a vital 
union with himself. It is instructive to observe, that 
while both the Epistles enlarge upon his glory, there is 
a considerable, and of course designed, variation, sometimes 
the one sometimes the other being more full. Thus the 
brief declaration in Colossians, that he is the head of all power 
and authority, is expanded in the Ephesians, raising him 
from the dead, and made him to sit on his right hand, high 
above all powers, authorities, and dominions, and every 
name that is named, not only in this, hut the future dispens- 
ation, and placed all things under his feet, making him 
head over all things to the Church, which is his body. 
But in the former is added, in opposition to Jewish 
teachers, in whom ye are circumcised with a circumcision 
not made ivith hands, the putting off the body of sins. The 
clause, in whom we have redemption, even the remission 


of sins, through his blood, is common to both Epistles; and 
in that to the Ephesians introduces a magnificent description 
of the Saviour's glory, which is so magnificent, that the 
reader imagines it cannot be surpassed ; but in the other 
Epistle new ideas are introduced, and names are given him 
to show his superiority over all created beings. Who is the 
image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature ; 
for by him wete all things created, in the heavens and upon 
the earth, the visible and the invisible, all created through 
him and for him; he exists before all, and by him they all 
subsist, or continue. He is moreover the head of the Church, 
or the new spiritual creation, the Begiymer, the firstborn from 
the dead, so that in all things, that is, both in creation and 
redemption, he might have preeminence. This strikingly re- 
sembles the description in the opening of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, where express image of his person answers to image 
of the invisible God; meaning, that lie made his Father, ivhom 
no man had seen or can see, visible as it were by his works, 
both of creation and miracles : we may say also, by his personal 
appearances, both to the patriarchs and in the flesh. There 
he is said to have made the worlds, here all things, and there 
as here, the preservation as well as creation of them is 
assigned to him. Two of these titles require explanation, 
'AgX^ and TlgooTOTox.os. The first means the author, or effi- 
cient cause; and so Christ in the Revelation^ calls himself 
'Ag^^ T^j xTlcrswg tou 0soO, not the beginning, but the beginner of 
creation. The second title, especially as rendered in our 
version, the firstborn of every creature, seems to favour the 
Arian doctrine, that the Son of God is himself a creature; 
but, as Waterland'= observes, it should have been translated, 
horn or begotten before the whole creation, and so it was 
understood by Justin Martyr ; indeed the very reason imme- 
diately assigned by the Apostle confutes that interpretation, 
because by him tvere all things created, for he who creates all 
^ Rev. iii. 14. <= Divinity of Christ, Sermon 2. 


things can be no part of the creation himself; and he is 
not only creator, but sustainer and preserver of the uni- 
verse which he has created. It may also be taken as 
the firstborn, or lord of all, and answering to xKripovoiJios, or 
heir, in the corresponding passage in the Hebrews^, the 
primary meaning leading to the secondary. This suits the 
Apostle's reasoning, that the creation and preservation of 
all things shows his original preeminence ; and on the same 
account, ngwroTOKo; ex. tu>v vsKgcov may be rendered not only 
the firstborn from the dead, but Lord of the dead, that is, 
as the Apostle himself says, he might have in all things 
■preemineyice, that he might give to men both their first 
and their renewed existence ; that he himself was the 
first existing derivative being, and in his human nature 
the first to rise and to enter heaven, for in him it 
pleased God the Father that all fulness should dtvell; 
and the description is concluded with the declaration, that 
by his death on the cross he had restored amity between 
men and angels, by reconciling the former, Gentiles as well 
as Jews, to their Maker. He then exhorts them, if dead 
with Christ, as they professed to be to Jewish and heathen 
ordinances, not to suffer themselves to be imposed upon by 
the commandments and doctrines of men, which have only a 
show of wisdom ; but if risen -with him, to set their affections 
on heavenly objects, because he is seated in heaven on 
God's right hand, and their life deposited with him ; 
for when Christ, the Author of their new life, shall 
appear to judge the world, they shall appear with him 
in glory, resembling him both in body and soul. It 
follows therefore that they must put to death their sinful 
inclinations, putting off the old and putting on the new 
man. Among the former, he enumerates the lusts of con- 
cupiscence, on account of which comctli the tvrath of God 
on the children of disobedience, of which they themselves had 
•' Ilcb. i. 2. 


formerly been guilty ; and also those which proceed from 
hatred and malice, recommending the opposite qualities of 
mercy, kindness, humility, mildness, and long suffering , for- 
giving, if they had occasion, as Christ had forgiven them ^ ; 
and above all love, which would be the most perfect ho7id of 
union, and would, as a girdle, keep together all their other 
good qualities. He would have the peace of God direct and 
govern their hearts, to which peace they were called 
on their admission into the Church, Christian doctrine 
dwell richly in them, and their cheerfulness show itself 
in singing not the dissolute songs of heathens, but psalms, 
hymns, and spiritual odes, and let them S2'>eak and act in 
every thing with a reference to the Lord Jesus, and with 
thanking God the Father through him. From general precepts 
he proceeds to the relative duties of wives, husbands, children, 
parents, slaves, and masters, expressed, though much shorter, 
nearly in the same words as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, 
the occasional variations from which are well worth examin- 
ation. He exhorts them to persevere in prayer with thanks- 
giving, and especially for himself, that a door might he opened 
for him to speak the secret of Christ, for which he was bound; 
and concludes with recommending discretion in their con- 
duct towards unbelievers, and that their speech should be 
courteous, and seasoned with salt, so that they might be able 
to give a satisfactory account to every man. Pie mentions 
to them Tychicus nearly in the same words as in the Epistle 
to the Ephesians, but he adds to him Onesimus, their own 
fellow-citizen, who accompanied him, whom he recommends 
to them by calling him a faithful and beloved brother. He 
concludes with the salutations of several of his fellow-workers 
both of the circumcision and of heathen origin ; and it is 
interesting to find among them both Mark, who had on his 
first missionary journey deserted him, and Luke the beloved 

^ In the corresponding passage in the Ephesians, iv. 32. it is, as God in 
Christ forgave you. 


physician. Aristarchus also, his fellow-prisoner, is named, 
and their dear fellow-servant Epaphras, whom they had sent 
to enquire after him, and who, he assures them, was always 
labouring fervently for them in prayers, that they may stand 
perfect and complete in all the will of God. 


The Epistle to Philemon, though consisting only of a few 
verses, is peculiarly interesting, as exhibiting in the most 
pleasing light the personal character of the writer. The 
person to whom it was addressed resided at Colosse, and 
being called a, fellow -worker, svas probably a minister of the 
Gospel. Certainly he was a man of wealth, for he is 
mentioned as liberally assisting the saints, and a congregation 
assembled in his house. The subject is of a private nature; 
and yet contrary to our notions, and the general statement 
of careless commentators, it is not sent to Philemon only, 
but to this congregation, including Appia and Archippus, who 
are supposed to be his wife and son; the latter, whom he here 
calls his fellow-soldier, being the same whom in the Epistle to 
the Colossians he warns to fulfil the ministry he had received. 
Salutations from the same individuals occur in both these 
Epistles ; and in opening this as well as that, Paul adds the 
name of Timothy to his own. Onesimus, the bearer of it, 
accompanied Tychicus, who brought the Epistles to Ephesus 
and Colosse; but this exclusively concerned himself, for he 
was the slave of Philemon, and had absconded, but was now 
returning to ask his forgiveness. He had withdrawn to 
Rome, never thinking that this flight should be overruled to 


SO happy a result as his conversion and repentance. Here, 
however, he found the Apostle, whom he might have known 
in Asia, and was not only convinced by him of the truth of 
Christianity, but had imbibed so thoroughly its spirit, that 
he submits to the mortification of returning to his master, 
and is described in this letter as a beloved brother, who was 
to be received with the same affection as the Apostle him- 
self. Paul, during his confinement, had derived comfort 
from his attentions ; yet he was too just to retain him to 
administer to his own comforts, but sends him back to 
Philemon to confess his sin, and solicit pardon. The letter 
is remarkable for the delicacy with which the writer inter- 
cedes for his convert, and breaks his request, so as not to 
shock the feelings of the injured party. Regarded only as 
a literai-y composition, it must be allowed to be a master- 
piece ; and in proof of this, it may be advantageously com- 
pared with an Epistle of the younger Pliny ^ on a similar 
occasion, which, though written by one allowed to excel in 
this style, is very inferior, and is not free altogether from the 
appearance of affectation. It is impossible not to be touched 
with the delicacy of sentiment and masterly address which 
pervade it. As an instance of the latter we may observe, that 
the name of Onesimus is kept back as long as possible, that 
the suspense and the affectionate introduction might prepare 
Philemon to hear without displeasure of one who had given 
him such offence. From its nature and its brevity, we 
cannot expect that it would be often mentioned by the 
eai'ly writers. We are therefore rather surprised to learn, 
that it is alluded to by TertuUian, quoted by Origen, and 
pronounced to be authentic by the ancient authors cited by 
Eusebius''. Nevertheless, some fastidious critics wished 
to expunge it from the Canon as early as the time of St. 
Jerome, because it was a private letter, (a reason which 
would be equally valid against the second and third of John.) 
» Pliny ix. 21. >' Hist. iii. 25. 


Though private, however, it is not the less worthy of this 
honour, since it shows, that the same spirit pervades both the 
Apostle's familiar address on a domestic subject, and his 
public Epistles ; and whoever will carefully study it, will 
discover in its short compass many doctrines and precepts 
of Christitinity expressed or insinuated. For example, in 
a religious view, all Christians are upon the same level ; the 
slave Onesimus upon his conversion is the Apostle's dear 
son; yet Christianity does not alter the arrangements of civil 
society, for he still continued Philemon's slave till he chose 
to emancipate him, and he ought not to be detained from 
his master's service without his consents It encourages 
us to exert ourselves to reclaim sinners ; it enjoins restitu- 
tion, and delicately inculcates gratitude to our benefactors. 
It also exhibits the efficacy of Christianity, in transferring a 
fugitive slave, who miglit even have purloined some of his 
master's property, into a virtuous and useful character, ex- 
cellent even in the very relation of life in which he had before 
so egregiously failed. Shall then, says Benson '', an Epistle 
so full of instruction be rejected for its brevity, or because it 
is addressed to one individual in behalf of another ? We 
may well answer with him who puts the question, men 
would do well to examine it carefully, before they reject it, 
or speak of it so slightingly. 

/ thank my God, Paul begins, at all times, mentioning thee 
in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith ichich thou hast 
towards the Lord Jesus and all the saints. He commences 
the Epistle to the Ephesians in the same manner, only 
transposing the two qualities; because, as Bishop Jebb 
remarks, in that it was desirable to give prominence to 
faith, in this to love, to produce which effect the latter is 
put first, and its object last. This shows the writer's con- 
summate taste and judgment ; and surely it should teach 
us that he is not careless or indifferent to his language, and 
«: Ver. 13, 14. '^ First Plantinpr of the Christian Religion, ii. p. 3)1. 


huiTied away by his feelings, but that he has a reason for 
every word he employs, and the order in which he places it. 
Having thus disarmed any angry feelings that Philemon 
might entertain, he proceeds to urge his request, that he 
would receive Onesimus even as himself. He intimates that 
he might even require this from him as his spiritual father, 
but he rather chooses to request it as a favoui", pleading that 
he is both aged a7id a prisoner, grown old in the service of 
their common Master, and a prisoner for the sake of their 
religion. He states, that he had begotten him ifi his bonds, 
and then names him, hoping that he who had hoew formerly 
unprofitable, would now be profitable to his master as he 
had been to Paul, elegantly alluding to the meaning of 
his name. He observes, that his inclination would have led 
him to keep him, since he found him serviceable, which he 
would not do without his master's consent, but sends him 
back, that he may treat him no longer as a slave, but as a be- 
loved brother, nay even, as he said before, receive him as himself. 
Paul adds, that if he has injured thee, or oives thee any thing, 
he will himself be answerable ; though, he adds, that Philemon 
owes him his own self; and expresses his conviction, that he 
will not require this repayment, but will even do more than 
he requests, hinting it should seem not only at friendly 
treatment, but also his manumission. He concludes with 
requesting him to procure him a lodging, as he expects to 
be soon granted to their prayers, and concludes with saluta- 
tions, and wishing the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be 
with their spirits. It is doubtful whether or not Onesimus 
had robbed his master of more than his own services. He 
had been once, says Paul, unprofitable, and by a common 
idiom of using mild terms, this may mean injurious ; yet 
when he says, if he hath injured or owes, he seems to speak 
of what he conjectured might be, not of what he knew. 

What effect the Epistle produced is unknown ; yet when 
we consider who wrote it, the earnestness of its love, and the 


character of Philemon, we cannot doubt that Onesimus 
was forgiven, and may even think it most probable, that, in 
compliance with Paul's indirect request, he gave him his 



Philippi had been the earliest scene of our Apostle's 
labours in Europe, and no where, as we collect from the 
whole tenor of this Epistle, and from passages in those to 
other Churches, had he been so successful. His preaching 
however was soon interrupted'', by the shameful treatment^ 
he and his companion Silas experienced from the ma- 
gistrates ; and though he required them honourably to 
release them from their illegal imprisonment, he yielded to 
their request that he should leave the colony. Six years after 
he revisited Macedonia'', and we may presume Philippi, on 
his way to Corinth, and again three months after on his return, 
but we have no account of his proceedings on either occasion. 
On hearing of his present confinement, the Philippians sent 
Epaphroditus, one of their pastors, to comfort him with the 
assurance of their sympathy, and to minister to his wants^ 
with presents; and of his faithfulness we may judge from 
Paul's calling him his brother, companioti in labour, and 
fellow-soldier. It appears, that in his eagerness to execute 
his charge, he had been nigh unto death^,- and on his I'ecovery, 
the Apostle with his usual disinterestedness deprived himself 
of the comfort of his friendship, that they might rejoice in his 
return. He availed himself of the. opportunity of writing to 

» Acts xvi. " 1 Thess. ii. 2. ' Acts xx. ^ I'liil. ii. 24. 

- Phil. ii. 30. 


them, and his object is to encourage them to persevere and 
advance in holiness, piety, and love, and every Christian 
grace, to caution them against the intrusion of judaizing 
teachers, and to thank them for their bounty. 

No Epistle is so^ warm in its expression of affection. 
Again and again we have beloved and brethren recurring; 
and its seems as if he could hardly find words to pour out 
the fulness of his love, when he urges them as my beloved, 
and longed for brethren, my joy and my crown, to standfast 
in the Lord, my beloved. We can see, says Alford, how that 
feeble frame, crushed to the very verge of death itself, 
shaken with fightings and fears, burning at every man's 
offence, and weak with every man's infirmity, had yet its 
sweet refreshments and calm resting places of affection. 
We can form from this -some estimate how clear his fresh 
springs of life and joy must have been in Him of whom 
he could write, 1 live no longer, but Christ liveth in me : 
and through whose strengthening him he had poioer to do all 
things. On comparing this with the three contemporaneous 
Epistles, we shall find a marked difference, which leads to 
the conclusion that it was written later, and near to the close 
of his detention in Rome. In that to the Ephesians"", we 
have freedom of preaching implied; in this', much more 
stress is laid upon his bondage, and it appears that others, 
not himself, preached, and made his imprisonment known. 
That his confinement had continued a considerable time may 
also be inferred from the fact, that the Philippians had 
sent him a contribution by Epaphroditus, who had been ill, 
and was recovered, and on his way back to them ; AndJ 
that he was expecting a speedy decision of his appeal. 
Beside, there is a spirit of anxiety which does not appear 
in the two former Epistles. He says, that Epaphroditus's 
death would have brought on grief upon grief, there was 

f AlfurcTs Greek Test. vol. iii. Prolegomena. s Philipp. iv. L 

h E|)li. vi. 19, ' Philipp. i. 13—18. J Pljilipp. ii. 19. 


therefore a grief before. The cause of this difference, 
Alford thinks he has discovered. In A.D. 62, the Prae- 
torian Prefect Burrhus, to whose custody Paul had been 
committed, died; in the same year Nero divorced Octavia, 
and married Poppaea, a proselyte to Judaism, and raised 
Tigellinus, the great promoter of that marriage, to the 
joint Praetorian Praefecture ; Seneca lost his influence, 
Nero began to show his real character; and this state of 
things might have changed the easy confinement of Paul 
to a lodging into imprisonment in the barrack, with the 
probability of a condemnation to death. He therefore 
assumes for the date the summer of A.D. 63. 

As the Epistle was written towards the close of his con- 
finement, twelve yeai-s must have elapsed since his first visit to 
the Philippians; but their conduct had been uniformly so 
exemplary, and their affection towards him so fully evinced, 
for from them alone had lie formerly (at Thessalonica'' and 
Corinth') as well as now received pecuriiary assistance, that he 
had only occasion to rejoice in their faith from the first day 
of their conversion until then ". Not one censure is expressed 
or implied; a strong proof, as Chrysostom observed, that they 
had given him no subject of complaint, a commendation 
which cannot be bestowed on any other of the Churches 
which he addressed. But though he bears his testimony that 
hitherto they had always obeyed, he stimulates them after 
his own example not to rest satisfied with present attain- 
ments, but to press forward towards perfection ; and in differ- 
ent parts of this not very long letter pours out fervent prayers 
for their growth in knowledge, in love, and in every virtue. 

As Timothy was well known to them, having served with 
him in the Gospel at Philippi during both his visits, and 
would naturally care for their state, he proposes to send him 
shortly, both that he might communicate the result of his 
confinement, and bring intelligence of their condition. It is 

k Phil. iv. 15, l(). '2 Cor. xi. 9. '" Philipp. i. 5. 


therefore with peculiar propriety that he joins his name with 
his own at the opening of the Epistle, but he does no more 
than add it, for he uses throughout the singular number. 
This Epistle, like those to the other Churches, is addressed 
to the whole body of believers, a fact in itself a sufficient 
proof that they were the common property of all, not to be 
withheld or communicated in whole or in part at the dis- 
cretion of their ministers. Here, however, the latter are 
specified in addition, under the title of bishops and deacons, 
showing, that in this, as in the other books of the New 
Testament, with the exception of the Revelation, the term 
bishop, that is, superintendent or overseer, is synonymous with 
presbyter or elder, and applied to the same body of men. 

No doctrines are here brought forward in an argumentative 
manner, but they arise naturally out of the exhortations to 
duties which are connected with tenets as their principles 
and motives, and enforced by his own example, and by that 
of his Master himself, which is proposed in a manner that 
must convince every impartial and candid hearer that Paul 
was a believer in his divinity. No one, it should seem, who 
acknowledges the passage as Scripture, can deny the doc- 
trine ; yet modern anti-trinitarians vainly endeavour, by 
verbal criticism on the original phrase, which is, I believe, 
peculiar to the passage in question, to bend it to their own 
purposes. I say, vainly, because it is evident, both from the 
reward which Paul ascribes to the Saviour's voluntary self- 
abasement, and the inference he draws from it, that he must 
mean to assert the original preeminence of the Son of God 
over every creature. He exhorts them to humility by his 
example ; but surely to assume human nature in order to 
raise it from its ruin to a higher dignity than it had enjoyed 
even before its fall, could only be humiliation to the equal of 
the Father. It must have been an honour to the most exalted 
angel, nor could we conceive a being less than divine raised 
to the throne of the universe. The anti-trinitarian will tell 
us, that by worshipping the Mediator, we ascribe to another 


the honour that belongs exclusively to his Father; but the 
Apostle, anticipating any such misgiving, declares, that his 
elevation is to the glory of God the Father ; and we need not 
fear that in this we can be guilty of excess, since our Lord 
himself expressly authorizes us to honour the Son, even as we 
honour the Father'^. Jesus is here said to have been rewarded 
by exaltation, but the power and glory of Deity does not 
admit of increase; it is therefore as Mediator that he receives 
the recompense of his voluntary abasement, that reward for 
which he despised the shame of the cross, the homage of the 
whole rational creation, angels as svell as men being placed 
under his dominion, in his human nature, until the grand 
object for which he took upon him the form of a slave, and 
was obedient unto death, shall have been accomplished, and 
then mediation being no longer requii*ed, the distinction of 
offices in the Triune Deity, which sin had rendered neces- 
sary, shall cease, and the Son resigning his Sovereignty, 
shall (as it is expressed in the first Epistle to the Co- 
rinthians) himself he subjected to Him toho subjected to 
him all things, that God may he all in all°. The reward 
is the name of Saviour or Deliverer, a name superior to 
all, even there to that of Creator, and to that name the 
knee of every created being shall how, and every tongue shall 
confess, that he who bears it is Lord. And these words are 
not the Apostle's own, but he adopts those of Jehovah 
speaking through Isaiah p, preceded by this declaration, Look 
unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ; for I am 
God, and there is none else. Every unprejudiced reader 
must perceive that Paul is speaking of something which 
Jesus relinquished of his own accord, being in the form of 
God, as equivalent to being God, and is best explained by 
the correspondent expression, form of a slave. As the 
former, he considered it no robbing of God (the Father) to 
be, like him, an object of worship, and his condescension is 
marked not only by his coming in the Jlesh, but in the form 
" John V. 23. ° 1 Cor. xv. 28, p Isuiah xlv. 22, 23. 


of a slave, to undergo a slave's clealh. Bishop Bull observes, 
that this single passage well weighed would suffice to repel 
all the heresies respecting the Saviour's person, and in so 
sajing he only repeats the words of an ancient Greek 
commentator 1. 

The Apostle begins with a warm acknowledgment of his 
gratitude to his God whenever he thought of them, /or their 
fellowship in the Gospel, from their conversion ; and prays 
that their love might abound more and more in knowledge and 
discrimination, in order that they might ascertain what was 
best, and so be pure and irreproachable. He expresses 
his confidence, that he among them who has begun a good 
work, loill perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ ; and he 
considers it just for him to believe this concerning them all, 
because they have him in their hearts. He informs them, 
that his imprisonment instead of impeding, as might have 
been expected, had tended to the furtherance of the Gospel; 
for it had excited notice in the Praetorian barracks as well 
as in the city, and had even emboldened many of the 
brethren to speak the ivord loithout fear. There were 
indeed some who preached Christ hypocritically, out of 
envy and contention, in the hope of adding affliction to his 
bonds ; but whatever were their motives, since Christ is 
preached, he rejoices, and will rejoice. And the result he 
knows will, through their prayer and the supply of the 

q If d\Ao had been rendered here nevertheless, tbe meaning would have 
beeu more clear. The improved version, as it is called, translates, without 
any authority, ovx apxayfj.hv riy-ficraTo, he cnuglit not at the robbery of being 
equal ivith God. Nor is Whitby's interpretation, he did not covet to appear 
as God, satisfactory. In a ease where all depends on tbe meaning of a Greek 
phrase, the judgment of Theophylact, as representing Chrysostom, ought, 
I conceive, to be decisive. " Tbe Son of God was not afraid to descend from 
his own dignity, since he had not this by robbery, e'l apird,yv,s, being equal 
with God the Father, but knew it to be his natural dignity, therefore he 
chose to humble himself, as even in his humiliation retaining his v\^os, 
eminence J" 



Spirit, tend to his own benefit, and to the magnifying of 
Christ in his body, whether through life or through death. 
He however declares himself perplexed, as it were, whieh 
to prefer. His living would promote the cause of Christ, 
hut deatli, which as it would hring him to Christ was his 
desire, would be his unspeakable gain"^; yet he concludes, 
that as his abiding in the flesh toill be more needful for 
them, he is confident that he shall abide, and return to them, 
that their joy may be more abundant ; only act, he adds, 
worthy of the Gospel, that whether he come, or only hear 
from them, they may stand fast, and strive together in one 
spirit for the faith, and in nothing terrified by their adver- 
saries, considering it a favour bestowed upon them by 
Christ, not only to believe on him, but to suffer on his 
account. He then earnestly urges them, if they have found 
any cotisolation in their religion, or comfort in communion 
with their brethren, to complete his joy in showing their 
unanimity, to secure which they sliould guard against strife 
and vainglory, promoting the interest of their brethren as 
well as of themselves, in lowliness of mind esteeming others 
better than themselves. And he presses upon them humility, 
from the Saviour's voluntary abasement of himself, which 
we have considered already. And he closes his exhort- 
ation with charging them to carry their own salvation 
with fear and trembling, since it is God who of his good 
pleasure worketh in them both the tvill and the work. Thus 
shall ye be unblamed aiid innocent, acknowledged children 
of God among persons of crooked and perverse habits, 
shining as the stars in a dark world, keeping fast hold 
of the word of life, so that he may rejoice in the day 
of Christ, that it may appear that he has not run and 
laboured in vain; and that even if he should have his blood 

c Far belter, which is, says IMacknight, the strongest superlative; bat in 
the original it is stronger still, for the word iroAAy, />j/ much, is, I know not 
why, omitted in our version, though represented Ity mngis in the Vulgate. 


poured out as a libation on the sacrificial offering of their 
faith to God, he will rejoice, and therefore he calls upon 
them to rejoice with him. He next cautions them against 
wicked Jewish teachers, whom he calls the dogs, and because 
they required circumcision, he denounces them as the con- 
cision, a vain unprofitable cutting of the flesh, for actual 
circumcision was only a sign of the inward, which is in the 
spirit and not in the letter ; observing, that he himself, and 
those who with him worshipped God in the spirit, and 
rejoiced in Christ Jesus, and had no confidence in the fiesh, 
were in the true sense of the terra the circumcision. But 
having said that he had no confidence in the flesh, that 
is, in any of the Mosaic rites and ceremonies, to show 
that he did not depreciate presumed advantages which 
he did not possess, he enumerates his special claims to 
any distinction that could be claimed by a member of the 
commonwealth of Israel. Thus he says, that he had been 
circumcised on the eighth day, that is, the appointed time ; 
that he was not a proselyte, but by birth an Israelite, 
of the royal tribe of Benjamin, the son not of the con- 
cubines, but of the beloved Rachel, and of Hebrew 
parents, of their strictest and most approved sect the 
Pharisees, and not merely a Pharisee, but one who accord- 
ing to their imperfect view had fulfilled the Law, and had 
had the positive merit of persecuting the Chrisiiajis. He 
might then well remark, that his grounds for carnal con- 
fidence could not be disputed ; but he here renounces them 
all, declaring that he has suffered the loss of all things, of 
friends, of reputation, of prospect, perhaps of possessions, 
and accounted them utterly worthless in comparison of the 
most excellent knoidedge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Re- 
nouncing his own legal righteousness, he seeks that better 
one which comes through faith from God, that he mag kiiow 
Christ, and the power of his resurrectio7i, and even resemble 
him in sufferings and in death, in order that he might 
X 2 


attain to the Resurrection. Yet, lest he should be thought 
to have only changed the foundation of his boasting, he 
modestly adds, that he has not yet attained the goal, nor 
laid hold of the prize, for which purpose he was laid hold of 
hy Christ, and pressed into the Christian course ; hut forgetting 
the progress he has already made, like the runner in a race, 
he presses forward towards the mark, keeping the wreath of 
victory full in view, and calls upon them to imitate him; and 
adding, that while others mind earthly things, he acts as a 
citizen of heaven, from whence he looks for the Saviour, 
who by his Almighty energy will change his humiliated body 
into a resemblance oHiis glorious body, tlu'ough which he can 
subdue all things. In charging these beloved brethren, his 
joy and his crown, to stand fast in the Lord, he beseeches 
two of the women, Euodias and Syntyche, who were at 
variance, to be of the same mind ; and he entreats one, who 
he styles his genuine associate, (probably Epaphroditus,) to 
help them, and Clement and other his fellow labourers, 
whose names were in the book of life. He calls upon them 
to rejoice habitually in Christ, and let their self-restraint 
appear, since he was at hand to judge and' to help, and to be 
free from anxiety, and to acquire this equanimity; he ex- 
horts them, whether in adversity or prosperity, to make 
known their progress and supplication to God with thanks- 
giving, and so the peace surpassing human comprehension 
which he bestows will, through Christ Jesus, guard their 
heart and understanding. He concludes with urging them 
to meditate, in order to practise, on all excellent and praise- 
worthy actions, whether they recommend themselves to 
their judgment as true, or honourable, or just, or pure, 
amiable, or of good report. Tliis will ensure them the 
favour of the God of peace, and he can honestly add, such 
things as ye have heard and seen in me, do. He thanks 
them for their renewed care of him, as a proof of their 
personal i-egard ; but he assures them that he had learnt to 


be content, either in poverty or abundance, for he was 
sufficient for all states, not from his own power, (as their 
philosophers boasted,) but through Christ ivho strengthened 
him. He describes their gift (not their first), now received 
through Epaphroditus, as a fragrant odour, an acceptable 
sacrifice, well-pleasing to God; and he adds, that he, whom 
he calls as on other occasions his God, will in return supply 
all their wants, and to him he ascribes glory for ever. He 
concludes with a salutation from the brethren and saints, 
and some of them vre find were of Cissars household. 

" Paul's mention of past persecution is so mild, and of 
his present danger so cheerful, his preference to live even 
in misery for their sakes and that of the Gospel is so 
genuinely heroic, his zeal for propagating religion is so 
ardent, yet attended with so deep an anxiety, that it be 
indeed true religion. He is so earnest to guard them both 
against a superstitious reliance on outward ceremonies, and 
a licentious abuse of the doctrines of grace ; and every ex- 
pression so evidently flows from a heart that cannot help 
overflowing, that whosoever shall read but this one Epistle 
under all the disadvantages of a literal translation, and 
broken into short verses, will feel a strong impression on his 
mind, that the writer must have been a man every way 
deserving of the high rank which he claims of a commissioned 
servant of God, and incapable of claiming it falselj'"'." 

' Abp. Seeker's Sermon, I. vol. ii. 



H E B K E W S. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews is anonymous, but the testi- 
mony of antiquity assigns it to St. Paul ; and this belief is 
confirmed by the judgment of the best modern critics. Its 
authenticity was never doubted in the eastern Church, and 
it is contained in the Syriac version, which rejected St. 
Peter's second Epistle. We learn from Jerome, that most 
of the Latins ascribed it to Barnabas or Clement, but 
Hilary and Augustine give it to Paul ; and even those who 
think it written in too classical a style to be by him, vir- 
tually acknowledge him for the author, since they suppose 
it written by him in Hebrew, and put into Greek by Luke, 
or some other companion. Arguments respecting style are 
often fallacious, and I should say that the Epistle does not 
seem to have the stiffness of a translation, and that the 
citations from the Septuagint are a presumption in favour 
of a Greek original. Beza even thinks the omission of Paul's 
name tantamount to a proof of his being the author, since 
he alone had an adequate reason for sending an anonymous 
letter to Jerusalem, not only as peculiarly the Apostle to 
the Gentiles, but as personally odious to the Jews of that 
city, who might have refused to read it if they had known 
from whom it came ; for though addressed to believers, it was 
also designed to promote the conversion of his brethren, 
since it showed Christianity to be tlie fulfilment of the Law. 
The writer must have intended that the reader should know 
from whom it came, though he keeps back the information 


to the end, where he says, our friend Timothy is liberated ,- 
and this is strengthened by the date from Italy. 

It is an inspired commentary upon Leviticus, and its loss 
would have been irreparable, for without this key to unlock 
the Law, the scheme of worship would not have been un- 
derstood, and therefore would have been thought unworthy 
of the Supreme Being; whereas now the minutest particulars 
are fraught with edification, showing that Leviticus is indeed, 
as it has been called, an anticipated Gospel. Its explanation 
of that shadowy typical system might have been rejected as 
fanciful, if proposed on lower authority, and makes it an 
inestimable manual for a Missionary to the ancient people 
of God. It is no less precious to us all as a standard of 
orthodoxy, clear and decisive, and authoritative alike against 
the Rationalist and the Roman Catholic. It affirms against 
the former, that without shedding'^ of blood there is no 
remisssion, and that Christ was once offered to hear the 
sins^^ of many. Against the latter, that the sacrifice was 
never to be repeated ; for he urges the annual typical 
sacrifice of the Aaronitic Priest as an argument against its 
eflicacy ; and declares, that Christ was not like him to offer 
himself often", hut noiv once in the end of the ages he hath 
appeared to put aioay sin by the sacrifice of himself His 
once for all so emphatically repeated, seems to me a pro- 
phetic protest against the sacrifices of Masses, which our 
XXXIst Article denounces as " blasphemous fables and 
dangerous deceits ;" Paul declares in opposition to their 
doctrine, that after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, he 
hath for ever sat doiun^ on the right hand of God, from 
henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool; 
for by one offering he has for ever perfected the sanctified. 
And Christ is not only the only victim, but the sole Priest, 
and the superiority of his priesthood is shown by its per- 

- Heb. ix. 22. •• lleb. ix. 28. 

-^ Heb. ix. 25, 28. " Hob, x. !«^*H. /Z — /f 


petuity. The priests after the order of Aaron were pre- 
vented from C07itinuing through death, hut he continues for 
ever, having an untransferable priesthood^. 

His main object is to draw off the attachment of the Jews 
to the letter of the Law, and to show how much they would 
gain by substituting the substance for the shadow. And he 
proves his position from the superiority of Christ in person 
and office, not only to Moses, but to all beings, both in 
person and in office, and from the privileges of the Christian 
over the Jewish Church. 

He begins with saying, that God, who had formerly 
spoken to the fathers hy the Prophets, had in these last 
days spoken to us hy a So?i, whom he has apjjointed 
heir of all things ; and then he affirms his essential glory, 
as a ray from his hrightness, and the impression of his 
being', through whom he has made the worlds, which he 

« Heb. vii. 22—24. 

f aitavyaffixa rrfs 5(i|ijs ought to be rendered, a ray from brightness, and 
occurs in tbe Book of Wisdom, iv. 27. where that quality, answering to the 
Wisdom of the Proverbs, which is a persouificatiou of the second Person of 
the Blessed Trinity, is called the ray, {hiravyaff^ia,'^ from invisible light ; 
and this idea is intended in the Nicene Creed, where he is described as 
" Light out of light." The second title, x"P*''''"V '''^^ vnoa-rdcrews, means, 
the impressnin of his 'person. It is rendered in the Vulgate, "figura 
substantia ejus." Augustine, De Incarnatione, xii. added crprcss, to 
make the rendering more complete. And Beza says, he would prefer 
insculpta, if he did not think the original word character, which he 
retains, sufficiently conveys the idea, which is that of an impression 
of a seal. Our translator has adopted person from Beza, who gives 
as his reason for the change, that vir6(rra(ns had been confounded with 
ohala, as if there was no difference between essence and snhstance. 
He says, following the ancient interpreter, that it would be absurd to 
say that Christ was an impression of the Father's essence, since the 
essence of both was one and the same; but it is truly and aptly 
said, that what is peculiar to the Father, is expressed in Christ, since 
Jesus himself said to Philip, he who has seen me has seen the Father, John 
xiv. 9. This translation distinguishes the hypostasis against the Sabel- 
lians, and the ih d/xoovaiov against the Arians. " Upon the first teaching 
of the Praxean and Noetian heresy, which charged the Catholic doctrine 


sustains by his powerful word. Having through himaelf 
cleansed us from our sins, he sat down on the right hand 
of Majesty, having hy inheritance, as well as by his work, 
obtained a superior name to the Angels. And this he 
proves from the Hebrew Scriptures, which alone had 
authority with them, for the title of Son had never been 
given to any of the Angels, who only served God as the 
winds or thee lightning ; and when he, the IlpcoTOTOKOs, 
the begotten before all beings, was introduced into the 
world, they were called upon to do him homage *". Nor 
is it him alone that they serve, they are appointed to 
serve also the heirs of salvation. He appeals to this as 
a fact shown by their Scriptures ; while the Son is ad- 
dressed in the Psalms as anointed above' other prophets, 
as Creator and Governor of all things, the eternal and 
immutable Jehovah, to whom all adverse powers shall be 
finally subjected, and to whom the Christian dispensation, 
which is designated as the world to come, is altogether com- 
mitted, that he may order it entirely according to his 
own sovereign will. He observes, that, in order to accom- 
plish this design of mercy, the Son must become incarnate, 

with Tritheism, the use of substance and person came in. The Catholics 
pleaded that they did not assert three Gods, but three Persons only, as is 
plain of TertulHan ; and such Avas the ancient Catholic sense of npSa-wiroi', 
and ])ersona. Afterwards came Sabellius, who reviving the Praxean and 
Noetian doctrine, yet thought it prudent to adhere to the Catholic terms ; 
but then he misinterpreted Person, understanding it of a manifestation 
only, and nothing substantial. Thus, after the manner of heretics, he 
kept to the Church's language, but corrupted the Church's sense; and 
from this time One God and Tliree Persons became an ambiguous phrase. 
Waterland's Second Defence of Queries, v. The Arians had used 
hypostasis in the sense of substance ; the Sabellians, as signifying only 
a nominal distinction ; and the difference was compromised A.D. 362, in 
a synod at Alexandria, over which Athanasius presided, leaving the 
language indifferent, so that they agreed in the sense. Hypostasis 
gradually came to signify Prosopon, person, and Housia, ovaia, succeeded 
to its meaning of substance. Wateiland, Defence, xxiii. 

s Psalm civ. ^>^ '' Deut. xxii. 43. ' E'salm cii. 4.5. 


and be reduced to a lower rank for a little while than the 
Angels. Still his superiority to them was shown by his 
being crowned with honour and glory , in having all things put 
in subjection^ under his feet; and he was made lower, in 
order that he might be able to taste death for every one; 
for it was proper that the Author of salvation should be 
made perfect through sufferings, (which he supports by 
several passages of Scripture',) and that through his death he 
might destroy him ivho had the power of death, the Devil, 
he took part not of angelic but of human nature. Thus 
he became a merciful and faithful High Priest, and having 
suffered, being tempted, was enabled to succour his brethren 
when tempted. 

He proceeds to show the superiority of their Apostle and 
High Priest, Christ Jesus, both to Moses and Aaron ; and 
while he grants the faithfulness" of the fonner in God's 
house, he maintains that he ranks as much above him as 
the builder does above the house. The mention of Moses 
brings to the writer's recollection the fate of the generation 
which he led out of Egypt; and he warns them not to 
harden their hearts as their forefathers had done, when, 
to use the Psalmist's language, though they had during 
forty years witnessed God's miracles, they had provoked 

k This eighth Psalm, according to some, is only accommodaled to the Son ; 
and had we not had an inspired interpretation of this and the 102d, 
we might not have discovered tliis higher meaning, which once opened, we 
perceive better suits the Lord from heaven, than the earthly Adam even before 
his fall. This is confirmed by the Greek word riKaTTwaas, which implies 
reduced from a higher state, and answers to eKeVoio-e, emptied Jiimself, 
in the Epistle to the Philippians. Our Lord applied to himself the second 
verse; and the Jews must equally have referred these citations to the 
Messiah, or the author of the Epistle would have quoted them to no 

' Isaiah Iv. 4; Ps. xxii. 22; xviii. 2; Isaiah viii. 18. 

'" This is a high commendation, for his faithfulness was not only re- 
peatedly tried by the nation, but sometimes even by Moses and Miriam. 
The divinity of the Messiah is obviously implied in this comparison. 


liim to say they should not e7iter iiito his rest. It might 
be objected, that this rest was the taking possession of 
the land of Canaan; but he proceeds to prove, that the 
promise is made to the believers of after ages. For 
this purpose he quotes the Psalm" of David, and observes, 
that it would not have been spoken so long after Joshua 
had given them possession of Canaan, if that land had not 
been a type of future rest ; so that a rest, the keeping of a 
Sabbath, {(ra^^uTia^oi) still remaineth for the people of God, 
that is, for the whole spiritual seed of Abraham, whether of 
Jewish or Gentile origin. Of this heavenly rest he exhorts 
the Hebrews not to come short, for that this promise was 
made to this as well as to former generations ; but the former 
if did not profit, because 7wt mixed with faith in them 
who heard. He cautions them to beware lest they should 
fall after tho, same example of unbelief ; for though they might 
now justify themselves before men, they would be judged 
hereafter by the living, powerful, written word of God, 
which, sharper than a two-edged sword, is a discoverer of 
the thoughts and intentions; and indeed every creature is 
laid open to God, to whom we have to give an account. 

Having considered Christ Jesus as the Apostle, like 
Moses, of their profession, he next compares him as 
an High Priest to Aaron. He urges the encouragement 
to be derived from his temptations, which enable him to 
sympathize with his brethren who are tempted, and calls 
upon them to come boldly, without doubt or fear, to that 
gracious throne, from which they might receive in answer to 
prayer mercy and grace for seasonable help. He contrasts the 
priesthood of Aaron and of Christ, both not self-assumed, 
but appointed by God, to enhance the dignity of the lattei-, 
which is called an everlasting priesthood, after the order 
of Melchizedec° ; and our Priest, havi?ig learned obedience, and 

» Ps. xcv. 

o It is not surprising that St. Paul's lunyuuge rospectiug JMcli-liizedec 


been made perfect through sufferings, became (unlike Aaron, 
the priest of a temporary dispensation) the author of eternal 
salvation to all who obey him. 

He now opens the spiritual meaning of the priesthood of 
Melchizedec, and reproves them for their slowness of com- 
prehension ; for being learners so long that they ought to have 
become teachers, they were yet like babes, who required to 
be fed not with strong food but with milk, having need to be 
taught the first prviciples of the oracles of God. Most of us, 
I think, must confess, that if this Epistle had not been 
written, we should have remained equally ignorant of the 
profound depth of spiritual meaning contained in the brief 
historical fact of the interview of Abraham with this mys- 
terious Being, who was at once, as his name and residence 
denote, the King of Righteousness and King of Peace. 
We know, however, that this application did not originate 
with the writer of the Epistle, for it is intimated in the 
110th Psalm, which predicts the future triumph of the 
Messiah in the day of his power. Still, notwithstanding 
their dulness of hearing, the author wishes to draw them 
on from first principles to perfection [of knowledge], that 
he may secure them from apostasy^', as it would be ira- 

should have given rise to many extraordinary speculations. Some suppose 
liim to be the Holy Spirit, thinking that no man can be regarded as 
superior to Abraham; not considering that the superiority refers not to 
personal merit, but to rank ; while others take him for the Son, and make 
him the type of himself. Shem and other men of celebrity have been 
named, but any of them are incompatible with the text airdTwp, anijTwp, 
without father or mother; meaning this not literally, but only tvithout 
descent, that is, with no recorded pedigree. And the meaning is rendered 
clear by a similar use of the words by Euripides respecting Ion, whose 
parentage was at the time unknown. 

ws yhp &fj.i}rup 
iiTrdTtop T€ jfyds. Ion. 109. 
p This passage and a similar one, x. 29, have caused great uneasiness to 
pious and timid believers, as if they had sinned beyond the possibility of 
pardon, forgetting that the bloud of Jesus Christ the Son |of God \ rlennscth 


possible to bring to a change of mind those who, by 
apostatizing, justified as it were the crucifixion of the Son 
of God, and so treat the shame lie endured upon the 
cross as his deserved punishment. The Christian who 
makes due use of the means of grace, he compares to a 
field, which by imbibing the rain, rewards with its produce 
the tillage of the husbandman ; while he rejects and burns 
that which brings forth only thorns and briers. He speaks 
to alarm them, because, from their work and labour of love in 
ministering for Christ'' s sake to the saints, he hopes better of 
them, and desires they should persevere, that they might 
enjoy to the end of life the full assurance of hope, being- 
active imitators of those who through faith and patience 
(under sufferings) inherit the promises. He encourages them 
by the example of Abraham, who obtained the promise after 
patient endurance, to whom God confirmed the immutability 
of his counsel hy an oath, sioearing by himself, there being 
none greater, that by those two immutable things (his promise 
and his oath) they might have strong consolation, who hadjled 
for refuge to Hope, that sure and stedfast anchor of the soul, 
which has been fixed in the inner sanctuary within the veil 
hy our forerunner, who is a Priest for ever after the order of 
Melchizedek. Such is the very Priest we need, holy, not 
injurious, undefiled, sinless, who has been exalted above the 
heavens, and has set down on the right hand of the throne of 
the Majesty in the heavens. Daily did the high priest 
offer sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for those of the 
people ; but the former, being without sin, this High Priest 
did not require ; and the latter, he did, by offering himself 
once for all. A priest is defined to be a person ordained to 
offer gifts and sacrifices, and this would exclude Jesus from 

lis from all sin; and not observing that the language shows that the persons 
here spoken of were not merely grossly wicked, but apostates, for they 
alotie could crucify the Son of God afresh, and have trodden him underfoot, 
and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. 


exercising the offer on earth, he not being of the priestly 
family ; but he exercised it in heaven, of which the worldly 
sanctuary was a type ; for God said to Moses, See that thou 
make all things according to the pattern shown thee in the 
mount: and he has obtained a more excellent ministry than 
Aaron, by how much he is the mediator of a better covenant, 
better in itself, and established upon better promises, which is 
shown by the substitution of the new one, as had been 
foretold by Jeremiah'', who declares its superiority as written 
(not on stones but) on the heart ; and human teachers will be 
no longer needed, /or' all shall know the Lord, and in mercy 
he will remember their iniquities no more. In pursuing this 
comparison between the two priesthoods, the writer describes 
the Tabernacle, into the more sacred inner division of which, 
called the Holy of holies, entered alone, and only one day in 
the year, and that twice ivith the blood of a bullock and a goat, 
which had been slain on the altar without, for himself and 
for the people, sprinkling with it the mercy seat. He then 
contrasts this tabernacle with the greater and more perfect 
one not made with hands, into which Christ, a High Priest of 
future good things, entering by his own blood, and not that of 
bulls and goats, obtained for us, not an annual but, a per- 
petual redemption. And if the blood of bulls and of goafs 
was admitted to be efficacious in cleansing from external 
pollution, it could not be denied that the blood of Christ, 
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to 
God, must purify the conscience, and enable them to serve the 
living God. He shows that his death was required to con- 
stitute him the Mediator of the new covenant; for as the 
Mosaic, so every covenant was ratified' by the death of the 

1 .Terein. xxxi. 31. " f Isaiah liv. 13. 

^ The same word AiadrjKn is translated, as in the Vulgate, sometimes 
Testament, sometimes Covenant. It has much embarrassed the reasoning; 
and I believe, though it seems a harsh version, that we should translate, not 
a testament is of force after men arc dead, but a covenant over dead 


victims, previous to which it had no efficacy. Moses 
accordingly sprinMed with the hlood of the victims the hook, 
the tahernacle, the vessels, and the people; and Christ ratified 
his in its archetype, heaven, in tlie presence of God, with his 
own. The typical sacrifice was ofiiered annually ; the true, 
once for all ; and as it is appointed unto men once to die, and 
after that the judgment ; so Christ was once offered, that unto 
them that look for him he may appear the second time unto 
salnation, without a sin-offeriyig , ivhich he had before offered 
for the sins of many. 

The writer closes with observing, that under the dispens- 
ation, which was only the shadow of future good things, the 
sacrifices were inefficacious, or' else they would have ceased to 
be offered; but a body being prepared for the Redeemer, as 
predicted in the Psalm, which declares also that God has no 
pleasure in the various sacrifices of the Law, he having by 
means of that hoAy perfected for ever them that are sanctified, 
has for ever sat doion on the right hand of God, till he makes 
his enemies his footstool. He encourages them, having such 
an High Priest, to enter into the inner sanctuary with a true 
heart, in the full assurance of faith, and to hold fast their 
profession without wavering, and to provoke one another to 
good works ; and not, as some did, forsake the meeting for 
prayer, and so much the more as they see the day approaching. 
And this is enforced by reminding them, that if they sin 
wilfully, there must be a fearful looking for of judgment, 
since (if this be despised) there remains no other sacrifice. 
He calls upon them to consider, that if he was put to death 
who despised the law of Moses, of how much sorer punishment 

victims is of force : and so dismiss the idea of a testament, to which there 
can be nothing to correspond under the old Dispensation. See Lectures on 
the Diatessaron, vol. i. p. 2 — 4. 

' Such is the free Septuagint translation of, 31ine ears hast thou opened, 
designed apparently to show that the Messiah assumed a body, in order to 
render a complete obedience. The original may allude to the custom of 
boring the ears of a slave, who preferred his matiter's service to freedom, 
as a token of his willing subjection, Exodus xxi, 5, G. 


shall he he thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son 
of God, and has counted the Mood of the covenant with which 
he is sanctified an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the 
' Spirit of grace: and he proves by quotations from the ancient 
Scriptures, that it is a fearful tiling to fall into the hands of 
the living God, who toill even under the Christian dispens- 
ation judge his people. He urges them not to cast away their 
confidence in God, and allows that they have need of patience, 
in order that they might persevere, and receive the promise for 
yet a little while. He observes in the words of Habakkuk, 
that He who is to come [the Messiah] will not tarry, hut come; 
and adds, that the just shall live hy faith; but he miist 
persevere, for if he draw hack, my soul shall have no pleasure 
in him: hut we, adds the writer, are not of those who draiv 
back to perdition. He then defines this justifying faith as 
the realizing of future henejits, and the evidence of things not 
seen, but taken upon trust ; and proceeds to show, that faith, 
being required from the beginning, the whole of revelation 
exhibited one and the same consistent scheme, a reliance for 
salvation on the promises of God. He then shows how the 
elders by this quality obtained a good report, beginning with 
the example of Abel, who through faith offered a more com- 
plete sacrifice than Cain'^, by bringing a lamb as a sin-oflfer- 
ing. He next specifies the case of Enoch, observing, that 
he who cometh unto God must not only helieve that he is, but 
also that he is a rewarder of them ivho diligently seek him. 
Noah, who moved by fear prepared an ark to the saving of 
his house, is an illustrious example ; for during a hundred and 
twenty years, while so engaged, there being no sign of the 
threatened deluge, we may be assured that he must have 
been a constant jest to the scoffers, who would no doubt say 
in ridicule, all things continue as they iverefrom the beginnmg. 
Abi'aham, the progenitor of the nation, next comes forth, 

" The fact, and the remark here that the victim was oflfered in faith, 
seem to me to prove the divine origin of sacrifice. Ths subject is dis- 
cussed by Magee in his valuable Work on the Atonement. 


who by the several trials he endured is well entitled to 
the epithet of the father of the faithful. First, he went 
forth when called on into a land which he knew not, promised 
to him as an inheritance, yet dwelling there only in tents, 
possessing in it no more than a grave, yet dying in faith, 
and plainly declaring that he looked for a better, an 
heavenly home, a city which has foundations, ivhose builder 
and maker is God. By the same faith, staggei'ing not at 
the command, he offered up Isaac, the son of promise, ac- 
counting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead. 
His son and grandson are named as partaking of the same 
faith ; and Joseph showed his reliance on the promise of 
Canaan as an inheritance to his race, when he charged the 
Israelites to take with them into it his bodies. Moses, saved 
by the faith of his parents from death, is himself a preeminent 
instance of this virtue, by sacrificing the highest present 
enjoyment to the future recompense of reward ; for he refused 
to be called the son of the monarch's daughter, esteeming the 
reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures and 
honours of Egypt. He specifies two instances of faith in 
the nation itself, the passing thi-oiigh the Red Sea, and 
the encompassing seven days the walls of Jericho ; and he adds 
an instance of the same quality in the harlot and alien 
Rahab. He has not time to dwell upon the examples of 
judges, kings, and prophets, naming some who were temporal 
deliverers, as Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah; thus 
showing that he speaks oi faith in i\\e most comprehensive 
sense, as trusting God's word, whether for this world or the 
next; for he specifies the result of t\ns, faith in some who, 
as David, subdued kingdoms; stopped, as Daniel, the mouths of 
lio7is; who, as the three intrepid Hebrew youths, quenched the 
flaming fre; and, as Gideon and Samson, turned to flight the 
armies of the aliens. Others also, of whom the world was 
not worthy, are commemorated, as distinguished not by 
active service, but by patient endurance, not only of mock- 



ings, bonds, and imprisonment, and of wandering without a 
home, but even of a painful death, such as stoning, being 
sawn asunder, and slain with the sword; and yet these 
faithful servants of God, though approved on account of 
their faith, were not favoured with the fruition of the 
divine promises, till they could enjoy them with those whom 
Paul is addressing. Seeing then that we are encompassed by 
such a cloud of witnesses to the efficacy of /ai^A, let us take 
encouragement, he continues, to run with perseverance the 
appoi?ited race, laying aside the weights that would slacken 
our speed, and the sin that would entangle and impede us, 
hxit fixing our eyes on none of them, but on Jesus, the leader 
and finisher of this faith, who for the joy set before him 
endured the cross, despisijig the shame, and has sat down on 
the right hand of the throne of God. 

These Hebrews had not yet resisted unto death ; but to 
strengthen them for the contest, if it should be required, 
they ought, lest they should/amif and be wearied, to consider 
the opposition which their Master had encountered. They 
had too forgotten the proverb, which spake unto them as 
children, showing that the Lord's chastening is evidence of 
his love ; and he draws from their submission in childhood 
to the correction of earthly parents, who in punishing gave 
way to their own passions, an inference to the duty and 
wisdom of submitting to their spiritual Father, who always 
corrects his sons for their real profit, having as his end their 
partaking of his holiness. And it would sustain them under 
trials to consider, that though chastening must of necessity 
he grievous, it would, to those who were properly exercised 
thereby, yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. He cautions 
them not for any temporary slight gratification to give up 
their religion, by the example of the profane Esau, who when 
convinced of his folly, in selling for one meal his birthright, 
found it impossible to change his father's purpose, though he 
sought it diligently with tears. He now introduces a sublime 


comparison of the Jewish and Christian Dispensations, under 
the figure of Sinai and of Zion, the object of which, in 
accordance with the whole scope of the Epistle, is to keep 
them from apostasy. The first is adapted to awe the 
mind, and to restrain from sin by the exhibition of Divine 
power; the latter, to attract by grateful love; and the climax 
is completed by their having come to the blood of sprinklijig 
of Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, which speaketh 
better things than that of Abel, which called for punishment, 
while this pleaded for pardon. Let them then beware of 
turning away from Him, who spoke to the Israelites from 
earth, but to Christians from heaven; and as the Jewish 
polity is to be not only shaken, but removed, let us, who 
are placed under a sovereignty which cannot be shaken, 
hold fast the favour [the religion] we have received, and 
worship God acceptably with reverence, and fear of offend- 
ing him ; who will be found by them who disobey him 
under the present dispensation, as he was by those under 
the former, a consuming fire^. 

The doctrinal statement being completed, the writer, after 
the manner of St. Paul, winds up with exhortations to moral 
duties; as, perseverance in brotherly love; hospitality, e\-\- 
forced by the example of Abraham, as they like him might 
receive profitable guests ; sympathy with prisoners, as if 
they were themselves bound with them; and suffering ad- 
versity with all who were liable to it, being themselves in the 
body. He expresses the duty of fidelity in marriage, in a 
way that shows it to be an honourable state in all, and ought 
to be forbidden to none. Covetousness is condemned, and 
content is enforced, from a reliance on the divine promise, 
/ will not leave thee, and I will not ever forsake thee^' ; 

g Deut. iv. 24. 

h Such was the gracious promise of Jehovah to Joshua, (Joshua i. 5.) 

preceded by the declaration, as I teas ivitli Moses, so loill J be ivith thee. 

This application, says Doddridge, of a particular promise to such general 

purposes, opens a noble hint for improving the Old Testament upon this 

Y 2 


and therefore believers may boldly say, The Lord is my 
helper, and I shall not fear what man can do unto me. He 
admonishes them to remember the ministers of religion, 
and to consider the end of their conduct, so as to imitate 
their faith, knowing that Christ had been, was, and ever 
would be, the same, and therefore would always support 
his people ; and for this reason too they should not be 
tossed about with various and strange doctrines, but have 
their understanding settled in the system of favour, that 
is, m the Gospel, not with the offerings of the Law, 
which were not profitable, but we have an altar of which 
they who j udaize have no right to partake ; and as in the 
sin-offerings, the victims were burnt without the camp, 
while the priest brought their blood into the sanctuary, 
so Jesus, that he might sanctify his people through his 
own blood, suffered beyond the gate. Let us therefore 
go forth to him, bearing like him, and for his sake, 
reproach; for we have no permanent abode here, but 
seek a future one; therefore let us through him, as a 
mediator, offer to God continually, not animals, like the 
Jews, but the sacrifice of praise, even the fruit of our lips, 
and acts of benevolence, with which sacrifices he is well 
pleased. He admonishes them to obey their teachers, who 
watch over their souls, that they may be able to give in their 
account ivith satisfaction; and solicits their prayers, the 
rather that he may be restored to them the sooner ; and 
he concludes with this prayer for them, May the God of 
peace, who brought back from the dead the great Shepherd, our 
Lord Jesus, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 
make you perfect in every good work to perform his ivill, and 
producing in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through 
Jesus Christ! 

great and solid principle, that God, ivho is no respecter of persons, intends 
that expressions of his favour to this or that eminently good man should he 
used for the encouragement of all others of the like quality. The three 
negatives in succession make the promise very emphatic. 




It is certain that the Second Epistle to Timothy was 
written under confinement, but commentators differ as to 
the time ; some, as Estius, Hammond, Lightfoot, and 
Lardner, assigning it to the imprisonment which we have 
already considered ; others, witli much greater probability, 
to a subsequent one, from which the writer was only libe- 
rated by martyrdom. This appears to be supported by his 
own testimony ; for during his first imprisonment he was 
allowed to dwell in a lodging with a soldier to guard him, 
his friends were permitted to visit him, and himself to 
teach his religion, and his bonds had turned out to the 
advancement of Christianity. He was also fully persuaded 
by the Lord that he should soon be liberated, and return to 
Philippi, probably through the good offices of the believers 
in Caesar's household, whose salutations he conveyed to 
them. But this Epistle describes him as imprisoned on 
a capital charge \ Onesiphorus had to seek him out dili- 
gently among the different prisons in Rome, before he 
could find him ; none of the Roman brethren ventured 
to appear with him ; when he made his first defence, all 
his assistants (Luke alone excepted) had left him ; and 
instead of looking forward to an acquittal, he expected 
that his next hearing would be followed by a sentence 
of death. 

Such also was the general opinion of antiquity, and 
Chrysostom considers the Epistle as his dying legacy to 
« 2 Timothy ii. 9. 


the Church. As the last recorded words of so holy and 
advanced a Christian, and so eminent and successful an 
Apostle, it will be read with peculiar interest, as showing 
that no afflictions could overcome his rejoicing and glorying 
in his faith, and that he looked forward with confidence 
to his reward from his righteous Judge. The same in- 
difference to himself and anxiety for others pervades 
this as it does his former Epistles, for his great object is 
to warn Timothy to hold fast the true faith, and to provide, 
as far as in him lay, for handing it down vmcorrupted to 
future generations. This Epistle affords a strong argu- 
ment in favour of Christianity. Paul was now deserted 
by his friends, and at the mercy of a cruel tyrant, and 
in expectation of death ; yet instead of looking back with 
shame or regret on the sacrifice he had made of all his 
worldly interests, he expresses his entire satisfaction in 
the part he has acted, triumphing in the full assurance 
of being approved by his Master. These strong asseve- 
rations, and those earnest charges to Timothy to imitate 
him, and this confident expectation of eternal happiness, 
being the Apostle's dying words to his intimate friend 
and fellow minister, must convince the most cautious of 
Paul's sincerity ; and when we consider that his faith was 
built upon facts of which his own senses and experience 
had informed him, such as Jesus appearing to him on 
the road to Damascus, and his endowing him with super- 
natural powers, the Apostle's own persuasion of these facts 
is, as Macknight observes, such a proof of their reality, 
and the truth of the Gospel history, as never will be 
shaken by all the sophistry of infidels united. This ex- 
cellent writing therefore will be read by the disciples 
of Christ to the end of the world, to their edification. 
St. Paul's object in writing to Timothy was to obtain the 
benefit of his services; and to show him how acceptable 
his presence would be, he informs him of his lonely and 


deserted state. We can hardly suppose that such a letter 
was required to persuade him to come, but the tone of 
it seems to show, that he might fear lest Timothy should 
be disheartened, and therefore he wrote, that like himself 
he might not have the spirit of fear, nor be ashamed of him, 
the prisoner of their Lord, but endure affliction, and onake 
full proof of his ministry. 

It is not known where Timothy was at the time; but 
it appears from the close, The Lord Jesus Christ he with thy 
spirit, grace he loith you, in some place where there were 
other Christians, and probably Ephesus ; for he is desired to 
avoid the vain hahhling of Hymenceus'^, and to be on his 
guard against Alexander*", who are mentioned in the former 
Epistle as false teachers, whom he had been left there to 
oppose. He likewise salutes in it Prisca and Aquila, who 
were before resident there, and the family of Onesifhorus, of 
whom it was the ordinary abode. Tychicus I have sent to 
Ephesus, seems a phrase unfavourable to this hypothesis ; 
yet it may imply that he was not to be blamed like 
Demas, because he had left him by his own command. 

On the supposition that Paul was liberated in 62, and 
returned to Rome in 65, we have an interval of three 
years to account for. He appears to have revisited the 
East, and according to Macknight we may, from his own 
intimations of his intentions, sketch out this last journey. 
He assumes that he embarked with Titus and Timothy 
in some Italian port for Judaea, according to his promise 
to the Hebrews'^, taking Crete in his way; that he then 
proceeded to Colosse, where he had ordered a lodging 
to be provided for him, met Tychicus, and wrote to 
Titus to come to him at Nicopolis. That he took Ephesus 
in his way to Macedonia, where he left Timothy, and 
lodged at Troas with Carpus, to whom he intrusted his 
cloak, books, and parchments. The latter, which he was 

" 2 Timothy ii. 17. '2 Timothy iv. 14. ^ Hehrcws xiii. 23. 



peculiarly anxious to recover, might be the original copies 
of his own Epistles, which he ordered Timothy to bring 
to hiin, to acknowledge them as his. The report of Titus 
determined him to visit Crete in the spring, and accordingly 
he left Nicopolis, accompanied by him, Erastus, and Tro- 
phimus. He took Corinth on his way, where Erastus, a 
native, remained, and Trophimus was subsequently left 
sick at Miletus in Crete, but others conjecture, at the 
town of that name near Ephesus. This however implies 
another journey to Asia Minor. About this time, No- 
vember, A. D. 64, Nero, to clear himself from the sus- 
picion of having set fire to his capital, accused the 
Christians, and so began what is called the first of the ten 
general persecutions. The cruelty with which they were 
treated at length excited the compassion of the people. 
Tacitus informs us, that they were cvoered with the skins 
of wild beasts, and thrown to dogs to be devoured ; or 
were crucified ; or fastened to stakes, and daubed over with 
pitch, and set fire to, that they might at night like 
torches illuminate the city. The Apostle, thinking his 
presence would sustain them under their suflTerings, might 
of his own accord have hastened to Italy, and might arrive 
about the time Nero set out for Achaia ; but the Pra3torian 
Prefect, who governed the city during his absence, continued 
the persecution witli undiminished severity. He was thrown 
into prison, according to Chrysostom, because his preaching 
had led to the conversion of a mistress of the Emperor. 

This Epistle shows that Paul had lately come from 
the East, nor are there any intimations in the New 
Testament of his having preached in the West, nor 
more than general expressions to that effect in other 
writings. This, however, is asserted by so many, that it is 
difficult to withhold our assent: not only does St. Jerome"^ 
ill the fourth century declare, " that he ran from ocean to 
« De Script. Eccles. v. 


ocean, like the sun in the heavens, sooner wanting ground 
to tread on, than a desire to propagate the faith ;" but even 
his contemporary and fellow-labourer Clement S in his first 
Epistle to the Corinthians, speaks of him as having taught 
" righteousness to the whole world, and having gone to the 
limit of the West." Theodoret^ tells us, that " he preached 
not in Spain alone, (an intention of visiting which he had 
announced in his Epistle to the Romans,) but made converts 
also in Gaul, and brought the Gospel into the isles of the 
ocean." No particulars are recorded of his labours in this 
part of the empire, and if we had not the testimony of 
Clement, I should have concluded that the Apostle had 
given up his design of visiting Spain. 

But to return to his imprisonment. The Apostle has not 
informed us directly of the crime laid to his charge. It 
appears, however, that Alexander, the Ephesian copper- 
smith, — who having, as it would seem, apostatized to Judaism, 
had blasphemed Christ and his Gospel, and on that account 
been delivered hy the Apostle to Satan^, — happening to be in 
Rome when Paul was apprehended, appeared with his accusers 
when he made his first answer, and in the presence of his 
judges, contradicted what he had urged in his vindication, 
Alexander the coppersviith did me much evil, for he has 
greatly opposed our words. The rest of the unbelieving Jews 
were not a little enraged against Paul for preaching that 
Jesus was the heir of David, and raised from the dead^, and 
also it seems for preaching that the Gentiles were to be saved 
through faith in him, without submitting to the Mosaic Law ; 
for he tells him afterwards, that the Lord urns present with 
and strengthened him, fully to declare what his preaching had 
really been, that all the Gentiles might hear of his courage and 

f Clemens i. 5. 

e Ep. 2 Tim. iv. 17; and Ps. cxv. So also Chrysostom De Laudibus 
Pauli, and in other works. 

h 1 Tim. i. 20. ' 2Tim. ii. 8—10. 


faithfulness. To this bold declaration he says he was animated 
by considering, that if we die with Christ, we shall also live 
with him. He seems to have produced such an impression 
on his judges, that instead of condemning, they sent him back 
to his prison, with the purpose of giving him a second 
hearing. From his desiring Timothy, after making his first 
defence, to come to him before the winter, we may con- 
jecture that he made it early in the summer of QQ, and that 
he thought a considerable time might elapse before his 
second hearing. 

Paul, after his usual salutation of grace, mercy, and 
peace, commences with thanking God, zvhom like his fore- 
fathers he served with a 'pure conscience ; that constantly, 
night and day, he remembered in his prayers Timothy, mind- 
ful of his tears at parting, and longing to see him, and 
looking forward to a joyful meeting from his unfeigned faith, 
inherited, as it were, from his grandmother Lois, and his 
mother Eunice. He encourages him to rekindle the gift of 
God which he had conferred on him at his ordination, that 
like himself he might have the spirit not of fear, but of power, 
of love, and of sobriety of mind; and should not be ashamed 
of their Lord's testimony, nor of himself, his prisoner, nor be 
deterred by the afflictions which would ensue from a pro- 
fession of the Gospel, which he should consider was the 
power of God; ivho had saved them, and called them ivith an 
holy calliyig, according not to their works, but his purpose, 
granted to them by favour from eternity, and now manifested 
through the appearance of the Saviour, who had abolished 
death, aud thrown light upon immortal life through the 
Gospel, which he was appointed to proclaim to the Geyitiles, 
and for which he suffered afflictions. He added, that he was 
not ashamed; being persuaded, that he in whom he believed 
ivas able to keep in safety till the day of judgment his soul, 
which he had committed to his care. Timothy therefore ought 
to hold fast the summary of faith tvhich he had received from 


him, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, though the be- 
lievers of Asia, of wliora he specifies two, Phygellus and 
Hermogenes, had turned away ; but his friend Onesiphorus 
had sought him diligently till he found him, and he prays in 
consequence both for his ^ household and for himself. He 
charges Timothy to be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ, and 
to take care to commit to other faithful men the instructions 
he had himself received. He encourages him to endure 
hardship, from the example of the soldier, whose study is to 
please his commander ; of the candidate /or the crown, in the 
Grecian games ; and the husbandman, who looks forward to 
enjoy the fruit of his labour. He encourages him to per- 
severance, from the fact of their Master's resurrection, and 
his own affliction unto botids, rejoicing at the same time that 
the word of God is not bound; he therefore endured all things 
for the sake of the elect, relying on the faithful saying, that 
those who died with Christ should live with him, and if they 
suffered, should also reign with him. He was to enjoin 
ministers not to strive concerning pernicious verbal disjmtes, 
and by rightly dividing and apportioning the true word, 
to show himself to be a worker who had no need to be 
ashamed. He was warned by the example of Hymenceus and 
Phygellus, who had erred so egregiously as to maintain that 
the Resurrection was alread}'^ past, to shun profane and vain 
babblings, for the foundation of the faith was firm and unshaken 
by such teaching; bearing this doctrinal and practical inscrip- 
tion. The Lord knoweth those that are his^: and, Let every 
one who nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. He 
adds, that in a large house there are vessels of precious or 

^ The Roman Catholics, assuming Onesiphorus to be dead, because his 
household is named without him, claim the passage as authority for praying 
for the dead. But he raiglit be now on his return to Ephesus, and this 
assumption shows how difficult they find it to cite scriptural authority for 
the practice. 

' Numbers xvi. 5. 


cheap materials, adapted to all sorts of uses : thus implying, 
that among Christians, some are qualified for higher offices 
than others. He exhorts him to Jlee youthful desires, and 
to pursue every virtue, avoiding those foolish questions which 
gender strife ; for the Lord's servants must not strive at all, 
hut teach patiently, endeavouring through meekness and 
gentleness to bring opponents to repentance, and to enable 
those who had been taken captive by the Devil to deliver 
themselves out of his snare. 

He now warns him of the perilous times which were 
coming on ; the more perilous, because these selfish men, 
from whom he ought to turn away, though they denied the 
power of godliness, were professors of the faith, because 
they had the form of it ; and among the epithets of con- 
demnation he heaps upon them, he calls them traitors. 
He describes them as insinuating themselves into families, 
and leading captive silly women, who though ever learning, 
could never come to a knotvledge of the truth; but their folly 
shall be made manifest, as was that of Jannes^ and Jambres, 
the chief of Pharaoh's magicians. He reminds Timothy of 
his own doctrine, virtues, and afflictions, (which Timothy had 
witnessed in his own country,) adding, that all loho tvere 
desirous of living godly, must like him endure persecutio7i, and 
that seducers, deceiving and being deceived, must grow worse 
and worse. But he was to holdfast the doctrines he had been 
taught, knowing from whom he had learnt them, and that they 
were in conformity with the Scriptures, which he had known 
from infancy ; and thus he introduces the memorable affirm- 
ation of the inspiration of the Old Testament, and of its 
profitableness for thoroughly furnishing the man of God unto 
all good works, in qualifying him for teaching, reproving, 
setting right, and instructing in righteousness. He there- 

"> Tt is curious that these names, which occur in the Targum and the 
Babylonian Talmud, should have been known to profane writers; as Pliny, 
Nat. Hist. XXX. 1, 


fore charges Timothy in the most solemn manner, as in 
the presence of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the 
future Judge, to proclaim at all seasons, convenient or in- 
convenient, the word; to rebuke and to exhort, and the 
more so, as the time was coming when men would not endure 
sound doctrine, hut choosing teachers according to their own 
tastes, turn aside from the truth to fables. He must there- 
fore be vigilant, endure affliction, do the work of an Evan- 
gelist, and make full proof of his ministry ; and he adds as an 
additional reason, that the time of his own departure was at 
hand, and that he was about to be offered up as a sacrifice. 
He had fought a good fight, his course was run, he had kept 
the faith : henceforth there was laid up for him (not a withering 
wreath of parsley, olive, or bay, but) the enduring crown, justly 
won, which the Lord, the just Judge, would award to him 
at the last day. And lest it should be thought that this prize 
was reserved exclusively for those who like him had magnified 
his Master in life and in death, by preeminent services, he 
adds, for the comfort of Timothy, and of private Christians 
of every successive age, and for all who love his appearing. 
He urges him to come as soon as he can, assigning as a 
reason that he is left alone, Luke only remaining with him; 
and it is satisfactory to read, that he desires him to bring 
Mark, who, he says, is profitable to him for the ministry, 
since he had left him on his first journey. Crescens is gone 
to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia, both probably by his 
desire. Demas, who was associated with Luke in the salu- 
tations to the Colossians and to Philemon, has now deserted 
him, having loved this present world. Timothy, wherever he 
might be, was expected to come by Troas, for he is charged 
to bring from that town the books and parchments and cloak^, 
wliich would protect him from the cold, which he had left 

n <pai\6vn, from the Latiu pcnnula, seems better rendered cloak, than bag 
or box, which, as books and parchments are specified, would seem to be a 
superfluous commission. 


with Carpus. He puts him on his guard against Alexander 
the coppersmith, who had greatly withstood his tuords, whom 
he prays God may repay according to his works. This was 
probably when he made his first defence, when none of the 
Roman Christians had the courage to stand by him, but this 
he prays may not be laid to their charge. All forsook him, 
nevertheless the Lord stood by him, and strengthened him., so 
that through him the doctrine might be fully known, and the 
Gentiles might hear it. He had been rescued from the mouth 
of the lion, and he expresses his conviction that the Lord 
will rescue him from every wicked work; but the deliverance 
to which he looks forward seems to be not in this world, 
but in the next; for he adds, he will preserve him to his 
heavenly kingdom; and he ends with ascribing to him, as 
he might to the Father, glory to the ages of ages. 

Thus does the blessed Apostle close his long self-denying 
course with expressing his confidence in that Lord who 
had piit him into the ministry, though once a blasphemer 
and a persecutor, for whom he had willingly suffered the 
loss of all things, and whom by this ascription of glory 
he acknowledges as his God. We have no record of his 
dying testimony, as we have of a multitude of martyrs of 
succeeding ages; but we may regard these as his last 
words, for they are only followed by his salutations of 
friends, and those of the Christians who are now with him, 
whose names have not appeared before, Euhulus, Pudens, 
Linus, and Claudia. The first is only mentioned here ; 
Linus is reasonably supposed to be the same person who 
became Bishop of Rome; and Pudens and Claudia are 
supposed to be husband and wife, upon whose nuptials" 
Martial composed an Epigram ; and it has been argued, 
that the lady was a British Princess and a Christian, but 
this can only be regarded as an ingenious conjecture. 

See the question examined in the Prolegomena to this Epistle in 
Alford's Greek Testament. 


There are no data for ascertaining the interval between 
the Apostle's writing this letter and his death. But his 
martyrdom is a fact which we cannot doubt, though no 
credible details of it have been preserved ; we may however 
believe that tradition is correct, both in asserting that, as 
a Roman citizen, he was not crucified, but beheaded ; and 
in fixing the spot in the valley of Aquae Salvias, now called 
the Three Springs, Tre Fontane, each of which is now 
covered by a small chapel, about three miles from Rome. 
He was buried at a spot a mile nearer the city, over 
which Constantine erected the magnificent Church of St. 
Paul, beyond the wall. It was rebuilt A. D. 386 by 
Theodosius the Great, and, like the other ancient Basi- 
licas, presented, when I saw it in 1817, before it had 
suffered from fire, the same singular union of rusticity 
and grandeur, reminding one at once of a temple and 
a barn. It is distinguished, like them, by a Mosaic on 
a large scale in the apsis, an altar in the centre, and the 
decoration of columns, from the tomb of Hadrian and 
ancient temples, in several instances taken from quarries 
in localities which have not been ascertained. 


The New Testament contains Epistles by four other 
Apostles, which are distinguished from those of Paul by 
the epithet Catholic. The term was current in the time of 
Eusebius, and had been previously applied by Origen. Its 
meaning, however, is disputed. They are so called, it is fre- 
quently said, because, while Paul's were addressed to parti- 
cular cities, these were designed for the whole body of 
believers, the catholic or universal Church, and more 
especially for those of the stock of Abraham, wherever dis- 
persed ; but Hammond supposes, that as the first of Peter 
and the first of John had been acknowledged from the 
beginning, they were called Catholic, that is, universally 
received, to the exclusion of the other five, though after 
their admission into the Canon, the term was extended to 
them. Strictly speaking, the second and third of John 
cannot be called Catholic with propriety in the former 
sense, being, like Paul's to Philemon, private letters; and his 
first, having neither introduction nor conclusion, is con- 
sidered by some as improperly denominated an Epistle, it 
being in their opinion a didactic discourse, designed for 
general perusal. Eusebius " divides the books of the New 
Testament into those received by all, 6ju,oAoyoujU.evo<, and those 
avTiXsy6[x.svoi the authenticity of which is disputed. He 
assigns as the reason, that the latter were rarely mentioned, 
yet he adds that they were read in most of the churches ; 
» Hist. Eccl. iii. 25. 


and we find them acknowledged as Scrij3ture in all the early 
enumerations of the Canonical books. From his tiaie, the 
authenticity of any of the five has rarely been called in 
question; and as the internal evidence arising from similarity 
of style and doctrine is complete, the only appaient cause 
of their rejection is, that being addressed to Jewish con- 
verts, they might not for a considerable time be known to 
the Gentile believers. To Jis of these latter times, the 
caution of the early Christians in not admitting into the 
Canon works, however edifying, and bearing the name of 
Apostles, while there was any deficiency in the external 
evidence, is in the highest degree satisfactory, since it is a 
guarantee, that no writings were adopted as Scripture, till 
they had undergone a strict scrutiny. 

These Catholic Epistles, though each is marked with the 
peculiar manner of its author, may all be characterised as 
more practical than those of Paul; not that the great Apostle 
of the Gentiles ever lost sight of the paramount importance 
of morality, which, we have seen, was in his mind, as it is in 
reality, inseparably connected with the mysteries of our 
holy faith ; but his method is, to lay down the doctrines as 
positions, from which he deduces precepts ; while they dwell 
exclusively on the precepts, assuming the former to be 
acknowledged. St. Paul, in fact, instructs novices, the 
others guard more advanced believers against an Antinomian 
abuse of the truth. Paul tells the Romans, that he had 
been slanderously accused of inviting men to sin, in order 
to magnify thereby the goodness and glory of God ; but 
though he rejects the imputation with due abhorrence, not 
only as an absurdity, but as blasphemy, and constantly 
maintains that a holy God has not called believers unto 
uncleanness but to holiness, he had often the mortification 
of finding that essential truth, justification by laith alone, 
perverted, and had frequent occasion to argue with those 
who confounded liberty with licentiousness, and who, be- 


cause good works were not able to justify them, conceived 
that they might, without danger to their salvation, indulge 
in every sinful propensity. " A wicked opinion," saith 
Augustine, " having sprung up even in the Apostles' days, 
from misunderstanding Paul's arguments, Peter, John, 
James, and Jude, aimed in their Epistles principally at 
vindicating his doctrine from the false consequences 
charged on it, and to show that faith without works is 
nothing worth. But indeed Paul does not speak of faith 
at large, but only of that living, fruitful, and evangelical 
faith, which worTceth hy love. As for that faith void of 
good works, which these men thought sufficient to salvation, 
Peter declareth positively against it^ calling it wresting, 
because Paul was in truth of the same opinion with the other 
Apostles, and held it impossible to attain eternal happiness 
by any faith which had not the attestation of a holy life." 

The purity of the Gospel morality, and its superiority 
to any other system of Ethics, is universally conceded 
even by unbelievers ; who only object that it is too 
perfect to be realised by man. Its earnest injunctions 
to perfect holiness, and to deny all ungodliness, cannot 
escape the notice of the most careless reader. It may 
then well amaze us, that any who are acquainted with the 
New Testament, can contrive to explain away its many and 
strong exhortations and commands; nor could we believe in 
so melancholy a fact, were it not demonstrated by painful 
experience ; and nothing sets in a stronger light the cor- 
ruption of our nature, than its hostility to genuine piety, 
and its endeavours in some form or other to counteract the 
will of God, which is the sanctification of the believer. The 
devices by which this is accomplished may be reduced to 
two heads, Antiiiomianism, and Self-righteousness. The 
latter system substitutes human merit, either in whole or in 
part, for justification by faith; it either relies, as in the 
b 2 Peter iii. 9. 


infidel, on the uncovenanted mercies of a benevolent Creator, 
who is never regarded as a just Judge and a holy and 
jealous God; or, as in too many Christians, it fritters it away, 
and obscures the glory of the Redeemer, by substituting in 
his place, with the Roman Catholic, penances, pilgrimages, 
adoration of saints, or other modes of will worship ; or with 
some Protestants, reviving in fact, though not in name, the 
covenant of works, and looking, in part at least, to their own 
deserts, instead of to God's covenant with his Son, for 
eternal life. This, in whichever form it shows itself, 
is a most dangerous error; but by Antinomianism we 
understand such a partial, perverse, or unguarded statement 
of truth, as is subversive of morality. Under pretence of 
religious liberty, and promoting the honour of God, Anti- 
nomianism rejects the moral law, not only as a covenant, 
but as the rule of life, separates privileges from duties, 
and denies that personal holiness is indispensably requisite 
either as an evidence of faith, or as a qualification for heaven. 
When such a system is stated in its naked deformity, we 
start from it in horror ; and yet it may be so insidiously 
introduced, as to pervade the moral system, before the be- 
liever is conscious of having deviated from the truth, nay, 
while he is persuaded that he is only seeking the exaltation 
of his Redeemer. In fact, it is the subtlety of the poison 
which is its most dangerous property. Its peculiarity 
consists in exhibiting Christ's righteousness as imputed to 
his people for sanctification, no less than for pardon and 
acceptance ; it describes true believers as justified as well 
as sanctified in him, and maintains that this more extended 
view of his all-sufiiciency exalts his glory, and supplies 
additional sources of praise and grateful adoration. While 
the pious and rational Christian examines his own heart and 
conduct, and from their conformity to the will of God, 
deduces his hope of the divine approbation ; the Antinomian 
presumptuously seeks to read his destiny in the divine decrees 
z 2 



concerning himself to be elect, in consequence of some 
intlefinite feeling or theoretical notion, forgetting Peter's 
warning, to make his calling and election sure by his works, 
and the Saviour's test of love of him — obedience. The prac- 
tical consequences of this fatal perversion, though they may 
not be pointed out by the teacher, cannot fail of suggesting 
themselves to the hearer. If the people of Christ are holy 
in him, what necessity is there, he will ask, of a holiness of his 
own ? No want of habitual conformity therefore, on their 
part, to the divine image and the divine law, can disannul 
their interest in Christ, nor weaken their confidence of being 
the children of God. Revolting as these conclusions are, 
they follow legitimately from their premises. Thus the 
system which sets out with the profession of exalting Christ, 
ends in making him the minister of sin ! and under the 
plausible plea of magnifying his grace, virtually encourages 
the practice of all those works of darkness, which he was 
especially manifested to destroy. Such a perversion of 
grace communicates presumptuous confidence, but can 
never generate holiness, nor any other of the fruits of the 
Spirit ; it forgets that it is only against such as abound in 
these that there is no law, and that none are predestined to 
future glory but they who are predestined to a present 
conformity to the image of the holy Jesus. Antinomianism 
being a perversion of the truth, accompanies it as the 
shadow does the substance, and is most conspicuous in 
periods when it predominates. Thus in the Apostolic age 
it was boldly avowed by the Gnostics, and mixed up with 
their peculiar notions; it revived in Germany with the 
Reformation, and in our own country in the reign of 
Charles I. ; but the good sense and piety of believers of 
the present day have, generally speaking, been proof against 
its seduction, and even several whose discourses showed 
them to be in theory Antinon)ians, have not developed it into 
practice. An anxiety to honour the doctrine of a free 


salvation, by exhibiting it alone, and unconnected with its 
necessary result, a holy life, has occasionally led preachers 
to state it so unguardedly, that their hearers, taking their 
meaning too literally, have adopted Antinomian conclusions 
from premises which they did not conceive capable of 

St. James demolishes the foundation of the Antinomianism 
of his opponents, by a definition of genuine faith. St. 
John maintains the necessity of obedience as the evidence 
of this faith, and shows that sin does not, as the Gnostics 
(yvcoo-TJxoi) taught, cease to be sinful when it is practised 
by one who has a knowledge {yvioa-is) of the truth, but is 
as contrary to Christianity as light to darkness, for the 
destruction of sin was the very object for which the Son 
of God was manifested in the flesh. Of the Antinomian 
teachers he says, they went forth from us, hid they were not 
from US', and Peter and Jude minutely detail their character ; 
the former speaks of them as future, the latter as already 
come ; and we learn from our Saviour's warnings, recorded 
in the Apocalypse, that there were such in the Church of 
Pergamos. Both Apostles describe them as licentious, 
self-willed, railers at persons in authority, covetous, allur- 
ing to sin by the promise of liberty, and flattering for 
their own interest. They are compared to Cain, Corah, 
and Balaam ; the first comparison marks their enmity 
against the good ; the second, their resistance to legitimate 
authority; and the third, their greediness for gain, to obtain 
which they would do what they knew to be wicked. The 
modern Antinomian, on the contrary, is the dupe of his 
own imagination, and unconsciously the author of evil : we 
may also hope, that though the false teachers of the Apostolic 
age deliberately and intentionally turned the grace of God 
into lasciviousness'^, and introduced^ destructive heresies, tlieir 
follo.vers were deceived; yet Antinomianism, however it 
c 1 Julm ii. I'J. '' Jude 4. - 2 l\;tor ii. ^. 


originates, will eat as does a cancer ^ In its earlier stages, 
and perhaps always in its more respectable converts, 
though annihilating the obligation to morality, it is not 
practically immoral. This, however, makes it the more 
dangerous ; for if its advocates were at once to exemplify 
its tendencies in their conduct, few who had been for- 
tified by education and habit under a better system, would 
fall into the snare. Even when they speculatively em- 
brace it, their former habits will preserve them, at least 
partially, from sin ; but the worst consequences may be 
apprehended for those to whom Christianity, if such it 
can then be called, is originally presented in this distorted 
form. Nor is the direct influence of Antinomianism 
the only ground of alarm ; the reaction it produces is 
scarcely less injurious, and that in a far wider circle; 
for so gross a perversion of the doctrines of Grace will 
terrify the timid, who will be apt to keep them out 
of sight, and in their anxiety to maintain the practice 
of good works, they will so enforce them, as may lead 
to the opposite error of their merit. We shall be pre- 
served from both, if, while with our eleventh Article we 
maintain, ' that we are accounted righteous before God 
only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour by faith, and 
not by our own works,' we remember with the Homily 
to which that Article refers, that * true faith doth ever 
bring forth good works ; and that a faith without them 
is but the Devil's faith, the faith of the wicked, a fantasy 
of faith, and not the true Christian faith^.' 

' 2 Tim. ii. 17- 

B Cooper's Letters to a serious and humble Enquirer after Divine Truth, 
Loudon, 1817, xi. and xii. 



This Epistle will first come under consideration, being 
probably the earliest, and written during St. Paul's first 
confinement at Rome. From the time of Eusebius, it has 
generally been acknowledged as authentic. It is alluded to 
by the earliest Christian writers, Hermas and Clement of 
Rome, the companions of St. Paul ; and its appearance in 
the Syriac version, which omits the Revelation and the 
other disputed Epistle, is, I think, decisive in its favour, 
since it was made at the close of the first century. It is 
addressed to believers of the circumcision. But though 
it is evident from the scope of it, which is to confirm the 
faithful in the practice of duty, that it was designed 
for Christians, it is no less plain from the fourth and fifth 
chapters, that the author also had in view the sins of his 
unconverted countrymen ; and it is observable, that he begins 
with a general salutation, equally suitable to both, being 
addressed to his Brethren of the twelve tribes of the Dis- 
persioji, but concludes without any benediction, and ends 
abruptly, as if it were incomplete. The sharp rebukes of the 
rich, and the warnings of the vengeance that awaited them, 
either on the impending destruction of Jerusalem or the 
day of judgment, might exasperate those whom it did not 
reform, and hasten his own death. That event is dated 
A.D. 62, and the Epistle appears to have been written not 
long before. The wars and insurrections, which terminated 
in the extinction of the Jewish polity, are reproved in it, 
and the coming of the Lord (perhaps in that visitation) 


is said to be near''\ and his niartyrdorn, as we have observed, 
is supposed to be alluded to in the Epistle to the Hebrews'". 
This Epistle was probably brought into circulation by the 
strangers who came up to Jerusalem to keep the feasts. 
The author, being well known, is content to call himself 
a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, without 
referring to his apostolical authority, or his government of 
the Church of Jerusalem. He is called the Less, as being 
younger, or of inferior stature, to distinguish him from the 
son of Zebedee, who also bore the name of the patriarch 
Jacob, whom our versions from the time of Tyndale trans- 
late James. As St. Paul calls him the Lord's brother", 
some suppose him to have been Joseph's son by a 
former marriage ; but among the Jews all near relations are 
called brethren, and in the Gospels he is designated as the 
son of Alpheus, or Cleophas. The common opinion, there- 
fore, that his mother was sister to the Virgin, appears to 
be true. "We learn from St. PauP, that he was favoured 
by his Master with an interview after his resurrection, 
but the purport of it is not recorded; he was appointed to 
preside over the believers at Jerusalem, according to Lardner, 
after Stephen's martyrdom, and retained the office till his 
death. On Paul's return after his conversion, Barnabas 
brought him to Peter and James as the chief Apostles"^ ; and 
at the Council of Jerusalem, after the rest had delivered their 
opinions, James pronounced the decision of that assembly. 
There are two contradictory accounts of his death. Accord- 
ing to one, which rests on the authority of a lost passage of 
Josephus, the genuineness of which is questioned, he was 
formally condemned to death by the high priest Ananus. 
The other represents him as standing at the passover 
upon the roof of the temple, whence he could be heard 
by the multitude below, and avowing his fjvith in Jesus as 

" James v. 8. ^ Heb. xiii. 7. ^ Hal. i. ]'•. 

" ] Cor. XV. 7. * fi«l. ii. 


the Messiah ; in consequence of which he was cast down 
into the court, where, as the fall was not fatal, they killed 
him. Whichever be the correct statement, advantage must 
have been taken of the condition of the country left without 
a governor, in the interval between the death of Festus 
and the arrival of his successor Albinus. 

We acknowledge with St. Paul, that all Scripture is 
inspired, and is profitahle^, and extend the remark beyond 
those then received, which he declares to be able to make 
wise unto salvation, to his own writings, and the other 
works comprehended in the Canon of the New Testa- 
ment. But though holy men spake as they ivere moved 
hy the Holy Ghost, they were left to express the revelation 
in their own words ; and therefore we observe as much 
difference of manner and style in them as in uninspired 
authors ; and so striking is the difference, that if they 
had been anonymous, no critic would have ascribed the 
Epistles of the five writers to one. Even Paul and Peter 
exhibit the same truths in a different light, and their 
difference from John and James is most striking. The latter 
indeed is a contrast to Paul, both in substance and manner; 
for he views religion not in its cause, but in its results, and 
he speaks not so much as an Evangelist, as like one of the 
ancient Prophets, in a figurative style abounding in similies. 
The Epistle is a practical exhortation to morality, but it 
is a morality based upon the doctrines of grace, pure and 
uncompromising, and such as could be genei-ated solely 
by faith; and appears addressed to persons disposed to 
rest in a barren speculative assent to doctrine; for the 
writer cautions them against being satisfied with being mere 
hearers of the word, affirming that the performance of it 
will alone be blessed in their doing it ; and he calls it the 
engrajfed loord, because like a graff it can change the quality 
of the nature into which it is implanted ; and that the 
' 2 Tim. iii. in. 


genuine religious worship, such as God the Father approves, 
is the bridling the tongue, with respect to others, the taking 
care jof orphans and widows, and personally the keeping 
themselves unspotted hy the world. 

This Epistle contains less of the peculiar doctrines of 
Christianity than any other; its main object being, as we 
have already observed, to guard believers from Antinomian 
perversions of justification by faith, and from imitating 
the views of their imbelieving countrymen, and to en- 
courage them to a patient endurance of their afflictions; but 
not merely the ordinary trials to which believers would be 
exposed from the heathen among whom they dwelt, who 
thought it strange that they did not run with them to the 
same excess of riot, speaking evil of them, but in eminent 
danger of suffering from open persecution unto death. 

St. James, it is well known, pointedly condemns as 
unprofitable an unproductive and dead faith, and expressly 
declares, that a man is justified hy works, and not hy faith 
only^. St. Paul asserts unequivocally, that hy the deeds of 
the law shall no flesh he justified iji God's sight, and con- 
cludes that a man is justified hy faith without the deeds 
of the latv^. Here appears to be positive contradiction, 
which some divines have not scrupled to maintain ; and 
even Luther in consequence spoke disrespectfully of James, 
calling his work Einstola straminea, a?i Epistle of straw ; but 
he afterwards retracted his censure, and acknowledged that 
he had misconceived it. To a hasty reader there may 
appear to be an opposition between the two Apostles, but 
being both inspired, it is certain that it can only be ap- 
parent; nor is it necessary to examine the various explanations 
suggested, for it requires little sagacity or study to perceive 
that they assign a different meaning to the term faith, and 
that the one uses it for the mere assent of the understanding 
to truths which it Ccinnot deny, a belief which, as he observes, 
s Jiinies ii, 2'1. '' Romans iii. 


is held even by evil spirits ; the other, for an active principle 
of affectionate reliance, which necessarily issues in obedience. 
The simple Christian who is unread in controversies will 
wonder at the discussions which have in consequence arisen 
concerning the comparative value of faith and good works, 
for to him they appear to be only two names for one and 
the same thing ; which he calls faith, when he would speak 
of its cause, good works, when he would consider its effects. 
And in this he is borne out by our own Church, which in its 
twelfth Article pronounces that " good works are the fruit 
of faith, from which they necessarily spring, insomuch that 
by them a lively, i. e. a living, faith may be as evidently 
known as a tree discerned by the fruit:" an illustration 
derived from a discourse of our Lord himself'. If any 
further remark be wanting to prove that the Apostles, in- 
stead of differing, only contemplated the same object from 
opposite points of view, it may be added, that both illustrate 
their positions by an appeal to the same example of 
Abraham, who was justified hy works, when he had offered 
Isaac his son upon the altar ; according to James, who adds, 
that his faith was made perfect hy works, and quotes, for 
confirmation of his statement, the same words from Genesis, 
Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righte- 
ousness ; the very same words which Paul had considered 
deciding his doctrine of justification by faith. James gives 
as another illustration the case of Rahab, who was justified 
by her treatment of the messengers, which same treatment 
is in the Epistle to the Hebrews ascribed to her faith. 
The fact seems to be, that St. Paul treats of justi- 
fication before God, St. James of justification before man. 
The former addresses himself to those who relied upon their 
obedience to the moral or ceremonial law, as the ground of 
acceptance; while the aim of the latter is to correct the error 
of those, who are satisfied with a barren, dead, unproductive 
' Matthew vii. 17. 


faitli. Ill support of this assertion, let the mode of reasoning 
adopted by each Apostle respectively be contrasted. St. 
Paul having proved to the Romans the guilt of both Jews 
and Gentiles, deduces this inevitable conclusion, that hy the 
deeds of the lata there shall no fiesh he justified in the sight 
of God. Now as the scope of St. James's Epistle has 
nothing in common with that of St. Paul, he does not, 
like him, enter into a regular induction of particulars, for 
the purpose of establishing man's guilt, and the consequent 
impossibility of his obtaining justification by the works 
of the law ; but he indirectly establishes this point in three 
detached verses ; he affirms in one place, that whoever shall 
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty 
of all ; in another, that ^/^ many things we all offend; and 
in a third, that to him loho knoweth to do good, and doeth it 
not, to him. it is sin. From these premises it may be in- 
ferred, as well as from those laid down by St. Paul, that all 
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God^. Upon the 
supposition, therefore, that St. James is speaking of justi- 
fication in the sight of God, what a strange conclusion is it 
for him to draw from this acknowledged sinfulness and 
guilt, that hy works a man is justified, instead of con- 
cluding with St. Paul, that if he be justified, it must be 
gratuitously, by grace. The context confirms this view ; 
for St. James begins by reproving those whom he addressed 
for their partiality to rich professors, as evincing the un- 
soundness of their faith. He expostulates with them, and 
brings their faith to the test; asking, what advantage a 
man can propose to himself by saying that he has faith, 
when he cannot appeal to his works in evidence of the 
truth of his assertion. 

St. James begins in the tone of one whose citizenship is 
not on earth but in heaven. Count it all joy, my brethren, 
w'.ieji ye fall into various trials, knowing (hat the trial of 
•> Romans iii. 23. 


your faith worketh out perseverance ; hut let your perseverance 
he perfected hy works, that ye may he perfect, and in no point 
deficient; hut if b.uj one be deficient in pi-actical wisdom, let 
such ask it from God, who giveth liherally, and will not up- 
hraid for importunity; but it must be upon the understand- 
ing that he is not wavering, a man divided in his attachment 
both to heaven and earth, and therefore irresolute and 
unstahle in all his ways. He calls alike upon the humble 
and the wealthy believer to rejoice, the first in his ex- 
altation as a Christian, the latter in his humiliation, be- 
cause his wealth is perishable, as the flower under the sun's 
scorching influence. Happy, he adds, is the man who en- 
dures trials ; for being proved, he will receive the everlast- 
ing crown, which the Lord has promised to them who love him. 
But the tried must beware of charging God with his trials, 
for as He cannot he tried hy evils, so He tries none; hut each 
who is tried is drawn aside, and is caught hy his own desire, 
and it is desire that brings forth sin, which perpetrated,., 
begetteth death. They must take care not to be enisled, for 
" all good giving and all perfect gifts^" descend, not from the 
influence of the stars, but from the Maker of them, who 
does not, like them, vary in appearance, and is not subject 
to the vicissitudes of light and darkness. Of his own will 
God has begotten Christians to be the first fruits of his 
creation by the word of truth; each therefore ought to be 
sivift to listen to that word, but slow to decide, and slow to 
wrath, because mans wrath will not accomplish God's righte- 
ousness. He exhorts them therefore in mildness to receive 
the graffed word, tvhich is able to save their souls; but he 
adds, in the practical spirit which pervades the whole 
Epistle, that they must not deceive themselves by being 

1 The original, iraffa SScris ayad^ koI irav Siipyjixa reKeiou, each giving 
good and every perfect gift, is in the original an hexameter verse, probably 
au accidental one ; and the following may be made into one, by a slight 
transposition ; etrx' airh raiv <^(iiTwv narphs KaraPatvov iveadev, isfromthe Father 
of Lightx, descending from above. 


content with hearing ivithout performing the word, like the 
man who takes only a hasty view of himself in a mirror, 
and so retains no accurate notion of his countenance. He 
reproaches them for their worldliness in their preference of 
the rich to the poor, as evidenced by their different accom- 
modation of the two in their assembly for worship ; and this 
leads him to press upon them the fulfilment of the royal 
law of love, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, out of 
which grows his memorable statement of salvation, not by a 
barren faith, but by the works of faith. He cautions 
them against an undue readiness to become teachers, as 
exposing them to the danger of heavier condevmation ; for 
we all trip in our talk, and he who does not, may be con- 
sidered perfect, and able to bridle the whole body. The 
association of words brings to his recollection the bridle 
which governs horses ; and that again the small rudder which 
directs the large ships, notwithstanding the vehemence of 
unfavourable winds, so the human tongue, small member 
as it is, resembles a little flame which can set on flre a 
whole wood. Contrary to the nature of tvild beasts, and 
birds, and flsh, no man is able to tame it; and inconsistently 
it both blesses and curses, which is as unnatural as if fresh 
and salt water should gush forth from the same spring, or a 
fig tree produce olives, or a vine figs. This leads to the I'ecom- 
mendation and well-known description of heavenly ivisdom, 
as contrasted with that which is earthly, animal, diabolical. 
From the description of this peaceful, merciful wisdom, 
he glides into the severe reprehension of their broils 
and contest, which sprung from their unsubdued and mis- 
directed desires ; and he inveighs in the most indignant 
language against them, in the hope of terrifying them into 
submission to the Lord. He warns them against assuming 
his office in judging their brethren, and so actually sitting 
in judgmeiit on the law itself. And he next censures 
the presumption, which forms plans of moving from place 


to place for the purpose of trading, not considering the 
result of a day, or even the continuance of life. He now 
breaks forth into such a vehemence of indignation, that 
it should seem that he addresses not even nominal Chris- 
tians, but avowed unbelievers ; for he accuses the rich 
not only of expending their treasures on their banquets, 
but of keeping back the wages of their reapers, and pro- 
ceeding to condemn and murder the just^ one, who has 
not resisted. 

The Apostle then turns to those who suffered from their 
oppression, and exhorts them to patient endurance, because 
the advent of the Lord drew nigh. This advice he confirms 
and illustrates by the case of the husbandman, who waits 
patiently for the early and latter rains ; taking for examples 
the Prophets, who had spoken in the Lord's name, and 
that of Job, whose end showed the mercy and compassion 
of the Lord. He strongly charges them against swearing, 
and to be content with a simple affirmation or negation. 
To the suffererhe recommends ^ra?/er, to the cheerful, singing 
psalms, and for the sick to send for the presbyters, who should 
pray for them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; 
for the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord 
shall raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they shall be 
forgiven him. He continues, confess your sins to one another, 
and pray for one another, for the supplication of a righteous 
man wrought in him by the Spirit has much strength, 
as appears by the ardent" prayer of Elijah, though of 

"> Some commentators maintain that he speaks of the Saviour, who is 
called by Stephen in his speech the just one, Acts vii. 52. and by 
Ananias to Paul, Acts xxii. 14. hut I think with the majority that the 
singular is put for the plural, as the poor is above, (ii. 9.) 

" 'Evepyovfj.evn, imvrought, taken passively, is rendered in our version 
actively, fervent, effectual, which makes the sentence tautological. The 
Vulgate renders it assidua ; and he prayed with prayer, v. 1 7 : prayed 
earnestly, E. V. is a common Hebraism for praying intensely ; 6fioioiTaee7s, 
should, as in Acts xiv. 15. be translated, not of like passions, hut of like 


the same nature with us, at whose intercession rain was 
withheld and granted. He, therefore, who in the spirit 
of prayer does not save the sick, but recovers a brother 
who has wandered from the truth, loill, in converting him, 
save a soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins°. 

Though the Epistle is chiefly practical, the Roman 
Catholics appeal to it in support of two of their seven 
sacraments. Auricular Confession and Extreme Unction. 

The first is with them an essential part of repentance, 
and yet it can be shown to be a novelty, ^^hich grew up by 
degrees. " It may be in the power of the Church," says 
Bishop Burnet, in his Exposition of the XXVth Article, 
" to propose confession as a mean to direct men in their 
repentance, to hunible them deeper for their sins, and to 
oblige them to a greater strictness; but to injoin it as an 
indispensable condition of pardon, is beyond its power; for 
since Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, he alone 
must fix the necessary conditions of it. In this we must 
conclude that the Gospel is express and clear, and therefore, 
so hard a condition as this cannot be imposed by any 
authority. The obligation to private confession to a Priest 
is a thing to which mankind is naturally so little disposed 
to submit, and it may have such consequences on the peace 
and order of the world, that we have reason to believe, that 
if Christ had intended to have made it a necessary part of 
repentance, he would have declared it in express words, and 
not have left it so much in the dark, that those who assert 
it must draw it by inference from these words. Whose sins 

° The passage is ambiguous, since it may be interpreted of the sins of 
eHher party, and eminent commentators differ. Hammond and Whitby 
apply it to those of the person who converts ; most moderns to those of the 
converted ; and Mackuight even says, that one who takes the first view, 
needs himself to be turned from the error of his ways, that his own soul 
may be saved from death. To me it appears, that the person intended is 
the converted sinner, and I think the recovery of the soul is meant to be 
contrasted with the recovery of the body in verse 15. 


ye remit, they are remitted." Some things are of such a 
nature, that we may justly conclude that either they are 
not at all required, or that they are commanded in plain 
. terms. St. James's exhortation is to mutual confession p, 
Confess ye your sins one to another; nor does he seem from 
the context to speak of sins in general, but of confession to 
an injured person of the wrong done to him, in which case 
confession is an evidence of regret and a degree of reparation ; 
nor is it commanded in order to absolution, but to procure 
the intercession of other believers. Indeed, absolution 
itself, in the strict sense of the word, w^as unknown till the 
twelfth century; that pronounced in our own Daily Service 
is only declaratory of God's remission of the sins of his 
penitent people, and is, properly speaking, a prayer for 
faith and repentance, which it announces to be indispensable 
qualifications. By the words that follow, that ye may he 
healed, joined with those that went before concerning the 
sick, the direction seems to belong principally to such, and 
the conclusion of the whole period shows that it relates only 
to the private prayers of good men for one another. Con- 
fess ye. 

It is extraordinary, that the direction to anoint the sick 
should be brought forward to justify Extreme Unction, since 
that is professedly administered for the benefit of the soul 
when there is no longer any expectation of recovery, and 
this is evidently in order to the restoration of bodily health. 
The fair inference is, that the Roman Catholics are at a loss 
for scriptural authority for the practice. In our Lord's 
commission to his Apostles, one of the miraculous powers 
bestowed upon them was the%agjflrj«,« la[/.uTcov, gift of healing; 
and St. Mark informs us, that they anointed with oil many 
that were sick, and healed them '". No hint however is given 
that this was a sacramental action, nor does it appear to have 
been prescribed by our Saviour; but the prophets had often 
P James v. 16. <j Mark vi. 13, 

A a 


used symbolical actions when they wrought miracles, and 
oil was in frequent use in the East upon almost all occasions. 
Let them anoint with oil, who can procure health for the 
sick; and let those who cannot, abstain from the vain symbol. 
The practice continued, however, after the extraordinary 
powers of the Holy Ghost had been withdrawn, and it is 
still used in the Greek Church. About the tenth century, 
they began to say that this anointing did good to the soul, 
even when the body was not healed by it ; and in the twelfth, 
those prayers that had been formerly made for the souls of 
the sick, thougli only as a part of the Office, the pardon of 
sin being considered as preparatory to recovery, came to be 
considered as the main part of it. Then the Schoolmen 
brought it into shape, and so it was decreed to be a sacra- 
ment by Pope Eugenius, and finally established by the 
Council of Trent. An obscure verse in St. John's first 
Epistle has been supposed, apparently with reason, to refer 
to this practice of anointing persons where a miraculous 
cure was expected; and that interpretation, which explains 
life as a recovery, is free from the difficulties which embarrass 
those who explain it of the future condition of the soul : 
If any^ man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall 
ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto 

' Macknight in loco. 



This preeminent Apostle, with whose history we are more 
minutely acquainted than with that of the rest except 
Paul, has obtained moreover an adventitious celebrity, 
from the high claims advanced by the Pope on the plea 
of being his successor, not merely as Bishop of Rome, 
but as Vicar of Christ. Peter, whose name was Simon, (or 
as he himself writes it according to the Hebrew ortho- 
graphy, Simeon,) was a native of Bethsaida, on the lake of 
Gennesareth, and a fisherman. He was the brother of 
Andrew, a disciple of the Baptist, who with another (pro- 
bably the Apostle John) was present, when their Master 
announced Jesus to be the Lamb of God, which taketh atvay 
the sins of the world. His conversation convinced them that 
he was the Messiah, and as Andrew then brought Peter to 
him, we conclude that he also was a follower of the Baptist. 
Though occasionally with Jesus, they still followed their 
occupation, till their Master called them to a more constant 
attendance, promising to make them fishers ofmen^. Peter 
afterwards removed to Capernaum, and with him our 
Saviour took up his ordinary residence. It is called Peter's 
house^, and the house of Simon and Andrew^. Thus, as 
Lardner observes, before Peter became an Apostle, he was 
the head of a family, and maintained himself by fishing, to 
which he alludes when he says. Behold, we have left all, and 
followed thee. Paul seems to imply, and it is directly affirmed 
by Clement of Alexandria, that his wife accompanied him 
« Matt. iv. 19. " Matt.viii. 14. c Mark i. 29. 

A a 2 


Oil his missionary jouvnies^. Peter was distinguished by his 
extraordinary zeal and faith. Thus the night after the 
miracle of the loaves, when Jesus came to his disciples walk- 
ing on the sea, he left the boat to meet him ; and the next 
day, when many disciples, offended at the discourse in the 
synagogue of Capernaum, left Jesus, and he said to the twelve, 
Will ye also go away ? Simon Peter answered and said. Lord, 
to ivhom shall we go ? He was one of the three to whom our 
Saviour granted a more familiar intercourse, being alone 
admitted to witness the resurrection of Jairus's daughter, to 
behold his transfiguration, and to be present in the garden 
of Gethsemane. His confident declaration, that he would 
never forsake his Master, his rash zeal in wounding the high 
priest's servant, his almost immediate denial, and his sincere 
repentance, are well known. After his Lord's ascension, we 
have seen that he takes the lead ; and it is remarkable also, 
that although by the hands of all the Apostles many wonders 
were wrought, it was by Peter's shadow alone that the sick 
who were laid in the streets of Jerusalem were healed as he 
passed by. 

Having taken the lead in the formation and government of 
the Church, he disappears from the history after speaking at 
the Council of Jerusalem ; and we hear no more of him 
than Paul's statement to the Galatians, that his timidity at 
Antioch was blameable, until his two Epistles bring him 
once more under our consideration. It would be interest- 
ing if we could ascertain the town from which he wrote, 
as it would determine whether in the interval he had 
laboured in the East or in the West. He writes from 
Babylon, but whether we are to understand by that 
name the celebrated capital of the Conqueror of Judaea, 
an obscure town in Egypt, or the Metropolis of the Empire, 
figuratively so called, is a question which in modern times 
has been much discussed ; and the three opinions are sup- 
d 1 Cor. ix. 5. 


ported by high authority. According to Lardner, there is 
no mention during the first four centuries of a Church in 
the Egyptian Babylon ; the Assyrian city was apparently 
deserted by men, and given up as an habitation to wild 
beasts ; and the general testimony of antiquity decides in 
favour of Rome. There are Protestant writers of note who 
maintain that he never visited the imperial capital; but it 
seems to me that they have suffered their prejudices to 
mislead their judgment, for the fact of his preaching there, 
had been asserted by a succession of early writers, long 
before it became a question of theological importance ; and 
no candid enquirer will endeavour to weaken their authority, 
because it may be turned to the advantage of his opjjonents; 
I cannot however see that Peter's residence at Rome gives 
any support to the unchristian claims of him who presumes 
to call himself his successor. Peter could transfer no 
power which he did not himself possess ; and his primacy, 
such as it was, gave him no preeminence over the other 
Apostles, whom our Lord himself declared to be on an 
equality. Besides, I think Barrow e has convincingly shown, 
that Peter would never have lowered his dignity in narrowing 
his Apostolical authority within the limits of a see, even 
though it was that of the capital of the empire, and that he 
appointed Linus the first Bishop, from whom, if from any 
one, the Pope must claim his descent. Tradition grants to 
Peter an episcopate of twenty-five years, approached nearly, 
but never reached, by Pius VL and VII. ; but it is clear from 
St. Paul's Epistles, that he had not visited Rome when he 
wrote to the Church there, and could not have been tliere 
when he wrote his farewell Epistle to Timothy. We are 
sure that the Pope has not succeeded to Peter's spiritual 
gifts, and this alone is a presumption against his succeeding 
him in spiritual authority. That Peter himself had no more 
than an honorary precedence, will appear from these ob- 
' Treatise on the rojie's Supremacy. 


servatious. As long as the Western empire existed, it might 
be reasonable that preeminence, and some patriarchal juris- 
diction, should be conferred on that see ; but as soon as 
it was broken up into separate kingdoms, they ought to 
have become as independent in ecclesiastical as in secular 

Even grant! ng"^ that our Lord called not the confession 
of his divinity but Peter himself the rock, that confession 
made in answer to a question put to all is the confession of 
all, to whom the power of binding and loosing is afterwards 
declared to belong. The Church is expressly declared by 
Paul to have been built on the foundation of all the Apostles 
and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner- 
stone; and their equality in office and authority is plain 
from our Lord's declaration, One is your Master, even 
Christ, and all ye are brethren. At the Council of Jeru- 
salem, it is not Peter but James that presides ; Paul speaks 
of himself as evidently his equal, as 7iot a lohit behind 
the very chief est A2}ostles^; for he that wrought effectually in 
Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was 
mighty in 7ne toioards the Gentiles ^. He puts James, Cephas, 
and John, who seemed to be pillars, upon the same level. 
He annihilates the personal infallibility of his presumed 
successor, by declaring Peter himself mistaken on an im- 
portant article ; and lastly, in these Epistles, Peter claims 
no preeminence over his beloved brother Paul ; and even in 
writing to the elders of the Asiatic provinces, takes no higher 
title than that of a, fellow-elder. It is Jerome's remark, that 
the keys were given to all the Apostles alike, and the Church 
was built on them all equally; but for preventing dissention, 
precedence was given to one, and John being too young, 
Peter was preferred on account of his age. However, even 
this precedence, the utmost that can reasonably be claimed, 

' Matt, xviii. 18; John xx. 23. f- 2 Cor. xii. 11. " (ial. ii. 


seems at variance with the passages we have ah'eady brought 
from Scripture. 

The authenticity of this Epistle has never been ques- 
tioned ; the date cannot be fixed, but it was probably 
written only a short time before the outbreak of the 
persecution, in which the writer as well as Paul was 
called upon to suffer. It is addressed to the Dispersion 
in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in 
all of which, except perhaps the latter, Paul had also 
laboured, and formed Churches. It must have been in- 
tended also for the edification of Gentile converts, for 
he speaks of those whom he addresses as being called 
out of darkness into marvellous light, as, though in time 
past not a people, the people of God, and not fashioning 
yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance ; 
and there is a reference to their vain conversation, received 
hy tradition from your fathers. 

The object of this Epistle is to admonish them, as 
pilgrims and strangers, to abstain from fleshly lusts, and to 
glorify God by their good ivorTcs in their impending day of 
visitation; in which he evidently expects that they may be 
called upon not merely to endure privations and persecu- 
tions, but, like Christ, to suflTer capital punishment. 

Erasmus declares it to .be worthy of the Prince of the 
Apostles, and to be full of apostolical dignity and autho- 
rity, and that though sparing in words, it is full of mean- 
ing ; and, according to Macknight, the design is excellent, 
and the execution does not fall short of the design. 
It has great compactness of thought, and the verses are 
almost a succession of texts, each of which might well 
constitute the theme of a discourse. Thus the second 
verse, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the 
Father, through sanctiflcation of the Spirit unto obedience, 
and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, might be 
expanded into a body of divinity. An introductory sketch 


like the present can only point ovit the principal bearings 
of the Epistle ; completer views and minuter information 
must be sought for in commentators. Gerhard, a dis- 
tinguished Lutheran divine, published in 1641 a critical 
comment on every verse of both St. Peter's Epistles. 
Abp. Leighton, his contemporary, one of a more spiritual 
and devotional cast on the first, which is greatly admired, 
and considered by Doddridge, his editor, as one of the 
most instructive and useful books in our language. His 
reflections on these words, may God make you perfect, he 
recommends as a fine specimen of eloquence ; a shorter 
one, on the inefficacy of repentance, or any other laver but 
the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, to fetch out the deep 
stain of sin^, is also excellent. 

Both his Epistles are distinguished for great tender- 
ness of manner, and for bringing forward prominently the 
most consolatory doctrines of the Gospel. Peter wrote 
to those who were in affliction; he was himself aged, and 
expected to be soon with his Saviour, and it was natural 
that he should look upward, and dwell on the topics best 
adapted to support and comfort believers. They are evidently 
addressed to persons who are passing through severe trials, 
and the main object is to suggest such considerations as 
would enable them to bear them in the right spirit, and 
to show the sustaining, elevating, and purifying power of 
their religion. Still, they are so suggested, as not to be 
confined to time or place, but to be of universal application. 

Peter, calling himself not the, but an Apostle of Jesus 
Christ, commences with the wish, that grace and peace 
may he multiplied to those strangers, elected by the Father, 
through the sanctijication of the Spirit, unto obedience, and 
(cleansing through) the sjirinkling of the blood of Jesus, 
lie blesses the Father, who in his abundant mercy had 
hpqotteyi them again through his Son's resurrection to a 

e ] Potrr i. 2. 


living hope of an undefiled and permanent inheritance, 
reserved in heaven hy the power of God, for them who 
are kept through faith to a salvation about to he revealed. 
In this hope, notwithstanding their manifold trials, they greatly 
rejoiced^ that the proving of their faith, more precious than 
that of gold hy fire, might he proved and glorified at the 
appearance of Jesus Christ; whom they loved, though they 
had not seen him, and nevertheless helieving, rejoiced ivith 
unspeakable and most glorious joy ; looking forward to 
the object of their faith, the salvation of their souls; a 
salvation into which the Prophets who foretold it had dili- 
gently enquired, and to whom it was revealed, that those 
things were to he enjoyed not hy themselves, but by the 
present generation, things which so exalt the perfection 
of the Deity, that the angels long to stoop down in order to 
inspect them. He exhorts them therefore, as obedient chil- 
dren, to be holy, as their holy God had commanded them, 
remembering that they had been ransomed from their 
unprofitable conduct, not by perishable articles, as silver 
or gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, as an un- 
blemished Lamb, whose sacrifice, foreordained before the 
creation, had been manifested in these last times, for them 
who through him believed in God, and had purified them- 
selves in obeying the truth, which produced unfeigned love 
to the brethren. The natural man passes away like the 
grass, hut the word of the Lord, from which they receive 
their second birth, endureth for ever. As netv-born babes, 
therefore, they should desire the genuine milk of the word, that 
they might grow thereby, since they had tasted that the Lord 
was gracious. To Ilim they had come, as to a living 
stone, chosen by God, though rejected by men, upon lohom 
they too, as living stones, were built up into a spiritual 
house, in which they were, as an holy priesthood, to offer 
up acceptable spiritual sacrifices. To this he applies Isaiah's 
prediction of a chief corner-stone laid in Zion, which though 


a rock of stumhUng to the disobedle?U, tvas valued by believers, 
who were a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and the peculiar 
property of God, (as the Jews had been formerly,) a people 
. formed to show forth the excellence of Him ivho had called 
them out of darkness into his marvellous light ; and though 
once no people, zvere now the people of God, and had now 
obtained mercy. He entreats them as strangers, (for their 
citizenship was in heaven,) to abstain from the fleshly desires 
which loar against the soul, ajid to shoiv an honourable life to 
the Gentiles, that seeing their good works, they might glorify 
God in the day of visitation. It would therefore become 
them to submit for the Lordh sake to all human appointments, 
to the Sovereign, and subordinate officers, and not to abuse 
their Christian liberty, but by iv ell-doing put to silence the 
ignorance of foolish men. Honour all men, love the brother- 
hood, fear God, honour the king^. He then enlarges on the 
duties of servants^ wives, and husbands, and enjoins them all 
to he of one mind, compassionate, and courteous, returning for 
railing blessing, knowing from the Scripture that Ihey were 
called to inherit a blessing, which they therefore should wish 
to be enjoyed by others; and strengthening his exhort- 
ation by a reference to the Psalm, He that will love life 
and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil. He 
observes as a general rule, that none would be disposed 
to harm them, if they were followers of that which is 
good; yet if they should have to suffer unto death for 
righteousness sake, they ought to feel happy, and should 

» The Emperor, who possessed his supreme authority by uniting in his 
person the offices of Imperator Pontifex and Tribune, was never addressed 
by the proud aristocracy and people of Rome as King, The flattery of the 
Provincials applied to him this title without scruple, as appears from writers 
ill Greek, and from the superscription on their coins. 1 bus Peter writes, 
Honour the King ; while Paul employs the general and inoffensive phrase 
i)f. Let every soul be subject to the existing authorities. 

^ It is interesting to compare these instructions of Peter wit li. those of 
Paul to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Timothy. 


allay their fear by trusting in God, and should be 
always ready to give enquirers the reason of their hope 
with modesty and respectfulness, that in consequence those 
who falsely accused them might he ashamed. Still, if it 
were God's will that they should suffer, it was better 
that they should suffer for ivell-doing, after the example 
of Christ, who suffered that he might bring us unto God, 
being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, 
by which also he had gone and preached to the spirits 
in prison'^, who had been formerly disobedient when the ark 
was preparing , which toas an antitype of the baptism which 
saved them, not produced by the washing of the body, but by 
the sincerity of their answers, through Christ's resurrection, 
loho is now at the right hand of God, reigning over the A7igels; 
and as he has suffered in the flesh, they should arm themselves 
with the same mind, that they should live henceforward accord- 
ing to the will of God. He exhorts them, as the end of all 
things was at hand, to be sober, and watchful unto prayer ; 
to have fervent brotherly love, and to regard themselves in 
the exercise of their various gifts as the steivards of God, 
that He may in all things be glorified through Christ. They 
were not to be surprised if a fiery trial were to try them, 
but they should rejoice if reproached for the name of Christ ; 
as they were partakers of his sufferings, so would they be of 
his glory ; and if they were to suffer unto death, they should 
take care that it was for no crime, but /or their religion, for 

« Our ReformiTS, by retaining tliis passage as the Epistle for Easter Eve, 
showed their adherence to the ancient interpretation, which a]jpears to 
me the most satisfactory, and seems to he strengthened by the obscure 
verse, 4. The Gospel was preached to them who are dead, that they might he 
judged according to men in thejlesh, but live accoi'ding to God i?i. the Spii'it. 
See the Third Article, in my Lectures. 

'' A murderer, and even the thief, might he punished with death, but there 
is a difficulty in conceiving, how a busy body in other m.en\s matters could 
be guilty uf a capital crime. We nmst suppose that it was connected with 
fraud, and the V^ulgate translation is favourable to this supposition. 


then they would not only 7iot be ashamed, but loould praise 
God, and commit their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator. 
Assuming no higher title than that of a fellow-elder, he 
exhorts the elders to undertake the superintendence of the 
Jlock of God cheerfully and disinterestedly , and not in a 
domineering spirit, hut setting a good example, that the chief 
Shepherd at his coming might reward them with a glorious 
unfading wreath. He admonishes the young, and indeed all, 
to he subject one to another, and to put on the long robe of hu- 
mility, casting their care on God, who cared for them. Once 
more he charges them to be sober and vigilant, because their 
adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking 
whom he may devour ; and ends i/ith a prayer, that the God 
of all grace, who has called them unto his eternal glory by 
Christ Jesus, may, after they have suffered awhile, perfect, 
strengthen, stablish, settle them. 



The Second Epistle of St. Peter is quoted as his by the 
earliest writers, as his contemporary Clement of Rome, and 
by Justin Martyr, and has been received as genuine, with 
the exception of the Syrian Church, since the fourth century. 
Michaelis argues in its favour from its resemblance to the first, 
which I mention, because Jerome informs us, that its authen- 
ticity was questioned on account of the difference of style. 
The difference, however, affects only the second chapter, 
and is justified by the change of subject, which is treated 
in an oratorical manner, with several unusual and poetic 


words, and required the more animated manner and 
diction of a Prophet. Bisliop Sherlock ^ thinks, that this 
description of false teachers is an extract from some apo- 
cryphal Jewish writing, which he supposes Jude, whose 
account is similar even in words and phrases, had before 
him as well as this Epistle when he wrote ; and that he 
expressly refers to it, when he says, 7raAa< Trgoyeygajotjaevoj, 
they were described of old for this condemnation. 

The author calls himself not simply Peter, as in the 
former Epistle, but Symeon Peter ; and refers to circum- 
stances in his history, to which the fabricator of an epistle 
in his name wovild scarcely have ventured to allude. The 
writer calling this a second Epistle implies a former one; 
and surely if it were not authentic, we might expect to detect 
some erroneous doctrine, for the sake of giving circulation 
to which it was forged; it is, however, in harmony with the 
former, and indeed with all the Epistles, and is distinguished 
by the energy with which it inculcates holiness, and testifies 
against the delusion of those who despise it. As it must 
have been written only a short time before his martyrdom, 
it might not be known to be his beyond the persons ad- 
dressed ; and the Church might decline to admit it into the 
Canon, till the internal evidence satisfied the most com- 
petent judges. It appears to be designed for the same 
congregations as the first ; and it is not unlikely, observes 
Lardner, that soon after the Apostle had sent Sylvanus 
with the former, he might have received from some one such 
a report as to induce him to bear, as Paul had done, his 
dying testimony, and her warning against the corruptors of 
the truth. The acknowledgment of that Apostle as a 
beloved brother is remarkable, and his placing his Epistles 
on the level of the ancient Scriptures would, it appears to 
me, be presumptuous in any one who was not allowed to 

* Discourses, vol. iv. 1. 


claim equal autlioiity. His martyrdom is said to have 
taken place at Rome in the same manner as his Master's 
execution, only out of humility he is said to have requested 
' that he might be crucified in the painful position of his 
body being inverted. The day was the twenty-ninth of 
June, which is also assigned to Paul's martyrdom, but 
authors differ as to the year. To me it appears most 
probable that it was the same, but they did not suffer on 
the same spot, for Peter was crucified near the Vatican, not 
far from the site on which Constantine dedicated the far- 
famed Basilica, which, as rebuilt by modern architects, is 
generally thought to ' be the noblest example of the then 
lately revived Grecian style. Christianitj' had spread so 
rapidly in Asia Minor, and especially in its northern division, 
that the younger Pliny, not fifty years after Governor of 
that Province, informed the Emperor, that the Temples 
were nearly deserted. 

Peter begins with reminding them of the exceeding great 
and precious promises, through which they might become 
partakers of the Divine nature, and urges them to all 
diligence in adding to their faith manliness, to manliness 
knowledge, to knowledge self-restraint, to self-restraint 
patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kind- 
ness, and to brotherly kindness general philanthropy ; and on 
this account to give diligence to make their calling and elec- 
tion sure, that they might never fall, but that an easy entrance 
might be granted them into their Lord's everlasting kingdom. 
He thinks it right, notwithstanding their knowing this, to 
stir up their recollection, as he was aware, as the Lord had 
shown him, that he must soon put off his tabeimacle ; and 
moreover he wishes, after its taking down, to leave a per- 
manent record, because he had not followed sophistical fables 
in declaring to them the advent of the Lord in poiver, and his 
own conviction of the fact, as having heard the Father's 
voice at his Baptism, had been eyewitness of his majesty on the 


mount of tranfifiguration, which made more sure the prophetic 
word, to which thetj would do well to attend as to a light in a 
dark place, till the day dawned, and the morning star shone 
upon their hearts. Prophecy they should consider did not 
arise from the prinate impulse of individuals, hut holy 
men of God spake as they were moved hy the Holy Ghost. 
This introduces his main subject, the Denouncing the false 
teachers among them, (which should not discourage them, 
since there had been false prophets among God's ancient 
people,) who pj-ivily brought in destructive heresies, denying 
the Sovereign who had bought them, and hringirig upon them- 
selves sudden destruction ; and many following their destructive 
ways, had caused the true way to be reviled. Through 
covetousness they made merchandise of them with feigned 
words, but he reckons on their speedy condemnation from 
God's former judgments, upon the angels who sinned, upon 
the antediluvians, and upon Sodom and Gomorrha, in which 
he showed how to discriminate, and to rescue the godly, as 
Noah and Lot, from temptation. They are described as 
walking after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, as despisers 
of authorities, and revilers of dignities, willke the angels, who 
temperately rebuke even rebellious spirits. They resemble 
the irrational brute beasts, who are made to be captured and 
destroyed. They count it pleasure to riot i7i the day time, 
and are spots and blemishes in their love feasts, cursed 
children, who have gotie astray in the way of Balaam, who 
loved the wages of unrighteousness. Wells they are ivilhout 
water, and clouds which (instead of dissolving in refreshing 
showers) are driven away by the tempest. They speak great 
swelling but empty words, and allure through the lusts of the 
flesh those who had almost escaped, by promising them liberty, 
while they were themselves the slaves of corruptioti. If 
was better for them not to have known the way of righteous- 
ness, tha7i to turn back from the holy commandment,- but he 
intimates that they had' never really known the Lord, for 


he applies to them the proverb, The dog has returned to his 
vomit, and the washed swine to wallowing in the mire. 

He now cautions them against the scoffers of these last days, 
who say, Where is the promise of the Lord's coming ? for since 
the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the 
creation. In confutation he reminds them, that the original 
world perished through water, and that the present is 
reserved to undergo alteration through fire ; and that the 
Lord is not like man, who has a limited time for the accom- 
plishment of his designs, for with him a thousand years is as 
a day, and he delays in mercy to allow opportunity for 
repentance. That day when it comes will come suddenly, 
and he calls upon his readers to consider how holy they 
ought to be, who looked after this conflagration to a renewed 
heaven and earth, in which should dwell righteousness. Con- 
sequently since such is their expectation, he charges them 
that they may he found hy their Lord in peace, without spot, 
and blameless, and should consider that this long-suffering 
was designed to promote salvation, as Paul, their beloved 
brother, according to the wisdom given him, had written to 
them ; and also in his other Epistles, he adds, that there are 
in them^ things hard to be understood, which the unteachahle 
and unstable wrest to their destruction, as they do the other 
Scriptures. They therefore should be atoare, lest they should 
he led to fall from their oivn stedfastness ; but groiv in grace, 
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Both Epistles, considering their brevity, may be said fre- 
quently, as well as strongly, to support our Lord's divinity, 
as appears from the following abridgment of the chapter on 
the subject in Dr. Pye Smith's Scripture Testimony to the 

»: The Greek has the remarkable various reading of ois and on: the 
former, being in the feminine, would place the difficulty in the Epistles; the 
latter, which is thought to be best supported, in the subjects which they 

f Vol, ii. p. i. eh. 3. 


1. Indirect testimonies g. Jesus Christ, whom tliouyk ye 
have not seen, ye love ; upon lohom thouyh ye now behold him not, 
yet believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; 
receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 
The absence of strong encomiums on even the best and 
holiest of mortals is a very remarkable characteristic of the 
inspired writings ; yet to all this, a most striking contrast is 
presented in the manner of mentioning the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; there is no restraint to the fulness of expression, 
no caution against touching upon the divine prerogatives, no 
appearance of apprehension lest the line should be stretched 
too far in pouring out the fulness of affectionate admiration 
with respect to him. In this passage in particular there 
are two marked circumstances which appear to carry it 
infinitely out of a range of a rational application to any 
created nature ; the one is, the unmeasured character of the 
affection described, joy unspeakable and full of glory ; where 
it is to be observed, that the affection predicated is not founded 
upon personal intercourse ; the other is the reason of this 
joy, the salvation of the soul, a gift received from Christ, 
as is evidently implied. 

2. What or what kind of time the Spirit of Christ which 
was in ihem pointed out. As this is spoken of the ancient 
prophets, it follows that the Messiah existed long before 
his birth as a man, and the Spirit can only be said to 
belong to one who is divine ; the phrase is similar to that 
common one in the Old Testament, the Spirit of Jehovah, 

3. The promise of the Lord's coming implies his divinity, 
for it is called in the same paragraph, the day of the Lord, 
and, the day of God^. 

4. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ: unto him be glory both now and to 
eternity. This doxology is an act of devotion, which can 
only with propriety be ascribed to Deity. 

6 i P.!t. i. 8, 9. h 2 Pet. iii. 10. 

B b 


1[. But we have direct testimony in two passages. The 
first, it is true, does not appear from our authorized version, 
Sanctify/ the Lord God in your hearts^ ; but the Vulgate and 
the most ancient MSS read Christ. The second also is 
lost to the English reader *", in the righteousness of God and 
our Saviour, but is rightly rendered in all the earlier 
versions, our God and Saviour, rou ©soD xa» ^o'Tijgoj ^ju,ajv. 



Judas, the brother of James, the writer, was sur- 
named Thaddasus and Lebbseus, and is regarded as the 
Apostle of Syria. He is spoken of by the unbelieving Jews 
as one of our Lord's brothers'; and the only record of him in 
the New Testament is his question to his Master, Hotv is it 
that thou art about to manifest thyself to us, a7id not to the 
ivorld^ ? Of his labours and of his death we have no account, 
but we learn through Eusebius, from Hegesippus, a writer 
of the second century, that he had grandchildren who were 
brought before the Emperor Domitian, who had ordered 
enquiries to be made concerning the posterity of David. 
Finding from their answer that they regarded the Messiah's 
kingdom as not temporal, and seeing they were husband- 
men, he dismissed them to their farms'. 

B 1 Fet. iii. 15. >■ 2 Pet. i. 1. ' Matt. xiii. 

k John xiv. 22. ' Eus. iii. 19. 


The address of the Epistle, To the sanctified by God the 
Father, who are preserved hy Christ, and elect, indicates that 
it was Catholic, and not designed exclusively for believers 
either of Jewish or Gentile origin. Its object is to keep the 
saints in the faith, which had been delivered to them once 
for all, and the ungodly men against whom he would guard 
them were the very same that Peter had already denounced. 
We have no fact to enable us to fix the date, which 
Lardner supposes to be nearly the same as that of the 
second of Peter ; but Doddridge assigns it to A.D. 70, and 
Mill to as late a period as A.D. 90. The evidence of its 
authenticity is most satisfactory, notwithstanding the doubts 
which have been cast upon it, on account of the quotation 
from the Book of Enoch, and Michael's reproving Satan 
respecting the body of Moses, for it is quoted as Jude's 
by Tertullian, and appears in all the ancient catalogues 
of the Books of the New Testament. As to the first, this 
Book is admitted into the Canon of the Abyssinian Church, 
and a transcript of it was presented by Bruce, the traveller, 
to the Bodleian Library. Like all apocryphal works, it is 
wearisome reading, but the reader may judge of it himself 
from the Latin version of the late Abp. Laurence. The 
verse in question has not been interwoven into the con- 
text, but stands apart in the beginning, as if it had been 
taken from some earlier work. Lardner and Macknight 
agree in thinking, that Jude in his notice of Michael's reproof 
of Satan had in his mind the vision in Zechariah"™, when 
Joshua the hiyhj^riest stood before the Angel of the Lord, and 
Satan at his right hand resisted him : and the Lord said unto 
Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan,- even the Lord who has 
chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee. But the words require the 
harsh figure of calling the Jewish Church the body of Moses, 
and the history of their legislator affords a more easy and 
more natural explanation. " We may collect," writes Dr. 
"' Zechariah iii. 1, 2. 
B b ^ 


Hales, " tlmt he was buried by the ministry of Angels, but 
that the spot was purposely concealed, lest his body sbould 
become an object of idolatrous worship. Estius and Beza 
both take this view ; and CEcumenius suggests, that Satan 
pleaded that Moses was unworthy of interment, on account 
of his having formerly slain the Egyptian. It seems men- 
tioned as a fact, and is said by Origen to have been found 
in " the Ascension of Moses," an apocryphal work, no 
longer extant. 

Jude was about to write concerning the common sal- 
vation, when he found it expedient to exhort those whom 
he addressed to contend earnestly for the faith which 
had been delivered once for all, and did not admit of 
alteration. He had to warn them against false teachers, 
who though they had crept in unawares, had been long 
ago described as ungodly men, vcho turned God's favour into 
licentiousness"^, and denied our only Sovereign God and 
Lord Jesus Christ. He reminds them, that they would not 
be suffered to prosper from the example of the Israelites, 
who though the Lord, had saved them out of Egypt, he for 
their want of faith destroyed in the wilderness ; of the fallen 
angels, who are reserved to the judgment of the great day ; 
and of Sodom and Gomorrah, who aie set forth as the 
example of eternal punishment. These dreamers defile the 
flesh, despise government, and speak evil of dignities. They 
speak evil of what they do not understand, and like brutes 
corrupt themselves in those things ivhich they naturally know. 
They have gone in the way of Cain, have rushed into the error 
of Balaam, and shall perish like rebellious Korah. They are 
spots in their love feasts, clouds without water, trees without 
leaf, and without fruit twice dead, who are to be extirpated; 

n lurning into lascivioii^ness the grace of God, and denying our only 
Sovereign and Lord. Such is the reading of the Vul{>ate, and of the 
Alexandrian MS, and the omission from the second clause of the word 
God, improves the sense. 


they are sea waves foaming out their shame, and loandering 
stars, that can be of no use to sailors. He quotes from Enoch 
a prophecy of the Lord's coming with ten thousand of his 
angels to execute judgment on the ungodly, for their ungodly 
deeds and words°. They were complainers, speaking great 
swelling words, and flattering persons for their own advantage. 
They separate themselves, are sensual, and have not the 
Spirit,- but he reminds them, that they had been warned 
against them by the Apostles. But ye, beloved, building your- 
selves in your most holy faith, and iiraying in the Holy 
Spirit, retain your love of God, expecting the mercy of our 
Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Some of those who 
had been misled might be recovered, and they were to 
treat them differently, according to their characters ; bring 
to some the mercies, to others the terrors, of the Lord, and 
hy pulling those, as it were, out of the fire, they were to take 
care not to suffer themselves pollution, hating the garment 
spotted by the flesh. He closes Vv^ith the ascription of glory, 
majesty, dominion, and power to Him, who is able to keep 
them from falling, and to present them blameless before the 

■ Divine presence, the only wise God and Saviour. 

It is evident, that the deceivers, whose coming Peter fore- 
told, were now come. They are described by both, as having 

the same qualities, and sometimes in the same words. 

.Tilde it should seem must have read Peter's Epistle, and, as 

" The verse seems to have an antique character, Lo, the Lord cometh ivith 
his holy ten thousands to execute judgment upon all, andto correct all the im- 
pious persons among them, concerning all the impious deeds ivhivh they have 
impiously committed, and concerning all the hard speeches which impious 
sinners have spoken against Him. I wouUl only observe, that the iSaints, 
with whom the Lord cometh, are Angels, as is evident from the song of 
Moses, Deut. xxxiii. 2. So I conceive we are to understand that Paul means 
Angels, when he writes to the Thessalonians, (2 Thess. i. 10.) tvhen he 
shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and admired by all bedevers. The 
word being originally an adjective is ambiguous, being in French frequently 
and occasionally in old Rnglish applied to things, us la Sainte Chnpdle, 
Saint Sepulchre. 


might be expected, completes the picture by some additional 
touches. Thus Peter speaks of the angels that sinned. 
Jude gives an account of their sin, that they kept not their 
first estate, hut left their own habitatioti. The very same 
difference may be found in setting forth the example of 
Sodom and Gomorrah. And though, as far as the two 
Epistles agree, the images and ideas are the same, yet the 
turn of expression is very different ; so Sherlock concludes, 
that Jude did not merely copy from Peter, but had recourse 
to the original book, from which he translated such circum- 
stances as he thought proper, to set those examples in their 
full light ; and if each made his own translation, this will 
account for the difference of language between them, while 
expressing the same ideas •). 

q Sherlock, p. 133—136. 




In the Introduction to the Lectures on the Diatessaron, 
I examined the Gospel of the beloved disciple; and he now 
comes under our review as a writer of Letters, and the sole 
Prophet of the new Dispensation. He already stands alone 
as an aged Father in Christ, addressing his children in the 
faith ; for even if we accept the earliest date of his Epistles, 
they were not written till after James and Peter and Paul 
had glorified God, by a w^illing sacrifice of life in his cause ; 
and any other of the Apostles, if surviving, were proclaiming 
the good news of salvation through a crucified Redeemer, 
beyond the pale of the Empire ; and few of those who had 
seen him in the flesh were left to bear testimony to his 


Is cited by the earliest ecclesiastical writers ; among 
them, by one of the highest authority, Polycarp ; certainly 
his disciple, and it may be, the Angel of the Church of 
Smyrna, to whom he wrote what their Lord dictated. 
And so strong indeed is the resemblance to the Gospel 
both in matter and in expression, that though anonymous, 
its authenticity has never been questioned. Thus in both, 
the writer is not satisfied with the simple affirmation or 
denial of propositions, but strengthens them by affirming 
or denying the contrary ; as, for example, He confessed 
and denied not, hut confessed, I am not the Christ **. 
^ Jolin i. 20, 


Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in 
the flesh, is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not 
that Jesus Christ is come in the~ flesh, is not of God ^. 
His sentences taken sepamtely are clear, but when we 
seek for their connection, we find more difficulty in them 
than in those of St. Paul. Augustine, apparently with- 
out sufficient reason, calls this an Epistle to the Parthians ; 
but though the writer speaks in the first person, and 
addresses others, it is really no Epistle, being without 
salutation or benediction, and seems only to have acquired 
the name from its having been placed in that division 
of the New Testament. It is a didactic discourse on 
the tenets and precepts of Christianity ; and whether we 
regard these sententious aphorisms of blended theory and 
practice, or the devout and benevolent spirit pervading 
them, we shall find it worthy of the author to whom con- 
stant tradition has assigned it — the disciple whom Jesus 

The presumed period varies from the year A.D. 68, to 
the close of the century. The advocates of an early date 
argue, that there is no reference' to the impending destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem, which our Lord'^ predicted would be 
preceded by false prophets and false christs, and that the 
elder believers are addressed as having seen him «. Dr. 
Hales insists upon the past tense being used instead of the 
present, as evidence in the ptissage, lie zvho saiv it baretvitjiess^; 
but still, this, if it be not an over refinement, proves no more 
than the priority of the Epistle to the Gospel. Townsend, 
who places it after the Evangelist's liberation from exile, 
argues from the Hebraisms of the Apocalypse, and the com- 
parative purity of the Greek of the Epistle and Gospel, that 
they must have been written when he had acquired a greater 
command of the language. His reasoning is plausible; still 

b 1 John iv. 2, 3. <: 1 John ii. 18. <" Matt. xxiv. 5, 1 1. 

» 1 John ii. 13, 14. ' .Tohn xix. 35. and 1 John v. 9. 


the difficulty remains upon his own showing, for the longest 
interval he can make out is not long enough to account for 
the difference of style. I think, therefore, we must refer 
that difference to the nature of the subjects ; and I agree 
with those who assign the early date of the Epistle, for it 
appears to me, that the heresies which he combats had even 
then assumed sufficient importance to justify his censure. 
These heresies, which were subversive of the truth, by sub- 
stituting for practical godliness a knoivledge (gnosis) falsely 
so called, we know from the other Catholic Epistles to have 
been sufficiently matured to require already exposure, and 
to induce St. John to stir up those who pi-ofessed to know 
God, and to hold communion with him and his Son, to walk 
in light, that is, holiness, even as Christ walked, and to keep 
his commandments, and especially to walk in hrotherly love. 
An authoritative yet affectionate spirit pervades the whole, 
except in those passages where he reprehends false teachers 
and hypocrites in so stern a manner, as to explain his 
Master's designating him as a son of thunder. 

His repeated affirmation, that lohoever is bor^i of God does 
not commit sin, that is, of choice and deliberately, though he 
may be betrayed into it by remaining infirmity, we learn 
from observation and experience must not be taken literally; 
for even as the regenerate are not perfect, it would prove 
too much, and he denies^ in terms sinless perfection. The 
maintenance of the doctrine manifests a strange ignorance 
both of human nature and of the Bible ; and if original sin 
had been not only weakened but annihilated in the re- 
generate, the Saviour need no longer exercise the office 
of Intei'cessor, and the Christian who had attained this 
excellence would no longer need repentance, but would 
enjoy at all times an unclouded assurance of salvation. 
But no honest seeker I am persuaded, though theory may 
mislead the judgment, can believe that he has realised it, 
e 1 John i. 10. 


unless from an inadequate conception of the extent and 
spirituality of the Law. 

I refer to Home for a synopsis of the leading divjsicnis 
of the Epistle, which he brings under six sections, fol- 
lowed by an arrangement of criteria, by which readers 
may examine themselves to see whether they he in the 
faith. Hardy '^ deduces from it the following abstract 
of Credenda and Agenda. " God is light, that is, with- 
out dai'kness or any imperfection, invisible, holy, just, 
faithful, and love itself. That we are by nature lying 
under the wicked one, but through grace regenerated, and 
shall at Christ's appearing be like unto him. That he is 
both very God and very Man. A Priest, as being the pro- 
pitiation for our sins, and an Advocate with the Father ; 
a Prophet, as teaching us by the Spirit ; and a King, ;is 
destroying the works of the Devil. That we derive from 
him justification and sanctification, of which the blood and 
water, the one to purchase, the other to fit us for a heavenly 
inheritance, are significant emblems. And that concerning 
duties, we are to love God, who has begotten us, and those 
who are begotten by him to subdue the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, to walk as Christ 
walked, and to keep God's commandment. If we believe, 
love, and obey him, we shall know that we are of God, 
and shall have eternal life in his Son." 

1 have already observed ', that, with very few exceptions, 
critics agree in rejecting the three heavenly witnesses, on 
account of the deficiency of external evidence, and that to 
me the internal is strong in its favour. This I have 
stated as cirising out of the grammatical structure of the 
sentence. I will now only add, that the sense is rendered 
more complete, if we retain the agreement of the three 
heavenly with that of the three earthly witnesses, in 

I' The first Cieneral Epistle of St. John unfolded and applied, 1656. 
' lieetures on the Dia'essaron. Tntrndiiction, p. 73. 


the same testimony, and that to the first testimony there 
seems to be a reference in the following declaration ; 
if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is 
greater: and this is the witness which he hath witnessed 
concerning his Son. All agree in one common testimony, 
that Jesus is the Son of God. The Father bore witness 
to the Son, by his own voice from heaven at his baptism, at 
liis transfiguration, and in the temple in answer to his prayer^; 
also by his miracles, and by raising him from the dead. 
The Word bore witness, by shedding the Holy Spirit upon 
the Apostles upon the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, 
by his visible descent upon Jesus at his baptism, and by 
his miraculous gifts. And upon earth, the same Holy 
Spirit bears witness in every age by illuminating, renewing, 
and sanctifying the hearts of believers. The water bears 
witness, for in it we are dedicated to the Son together 
with the Father and Holy Spirit, which water typifies our 
])urification from our natural pollution ; and the blood 
bears witness, being represented in the other Sacrament, 
and applied by faith to the conscience ; this denoting our 
justification, as the water did our sanctification ; and both the 
earthly and heavenly agree in witnessing one and the same 
truth, namely, that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and 
that in him we have eternal life. 

The divinity of the Saviour, which is implied through- 
out, is positively asserted both in the opening and the con- 
clusion of the Epistle; for in the beginning he is called, 
the word of life — the life — the eternal life; and in the 
end, in plain terms, this is the true God, and eternal 
life. I ought, however, to observe, that this application 
has been called in question, and that some refer the 
demonstrative pronoun to the remote antecedent, the 
Father, instead of the immediate one, Jesus Christ. Our 
interpretation, however, is more conformable to the genius 
f John xii. 28. 


of 'the Greek language; it is that of the Greek Fathers, 
and it was witii this passage that Athanasius silenced 
Arius, ohserving, that as Christ said of the Father •', This 
is life eternal, that they might know thee the only real God, 
and Jesus Christ ivhom thou hast sent; so John said of 
Christ, This is the true God, and eternal lifeK Our 
interpretation, the received one, is supported by the 
preceding declaration a few verses above, that this is the 
record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this 
life is in his Son. I transcribe the passage in Greek, and 
from the Vulgate, because there are some variations: Oj'Saftsv 
8s, oTi 6 TIoj Tou Qsov yJKst, Kat SeSwxsv ^jxTv diccvoiav, hu yivwTxcjofji.sV 
TOV uKf^ivov 5ta» l(rjw,£V Iv too aA>)9jva;, ly tco Tlcu auTov 'IijaoO X^jctto). 
OvTog IcTTJV aAy]9ivoj Qiog koc) r; ^cuij ouxviog. Et dedit 
nobis sensum ut cognoscamus verum Deum et simus 
in vero Filio ejus. Hie est verus Deus et vita aeterna. 
The word true or real, in opposition to any falsely so 
called, is an epithet assumed by our Lord in the Reve- 
lation''; and if 0=of, God, was not in the original text, 
it will here mean Christ. But it appears to me that his 
divinity is asserted, whichever reading we adopt, the 
power of giving understanding, here predicated of him, 
being an attribute of Deity. It is remarkable, that as the 
Epistle begins with a strong asseveration of the Saviour's 
humanity, so does the Gospel with one as positive of his 
Deity ; in the one, protesting against an heresy common in 
o\ir days ; in the otlier, against one, though now extinct, 
prevalent in his own. 

His main object ap])oars to be, the warning disciples 
against the false teachers, who had proved themselves not 
to be true ones by departing from the faith, and to confirm 
them in their fellowship with the Father and with the Son. 
These teachers he calls Antichrists, a term peculiar to 
himself, though applied by commentators to the wild beast, 
^ .Tohn xvii. 3. ' Olass. Phil. Saora. '' Rev. iii. 7. 


which spran^r out of the earth in the Apocalypse; and 
to St. Paul's man of sin, considered by most Protestant 
commentators as designating the Pope. The word is equi- 
vocal, meaning both an opponent and a substitute for 
Christ; in the former sense it is used by St. John, and in 
both, I consider it may well be applied to one who claims 
to be his Vicar, contradicts his doctrine, and prevents the 
perusal of his word. St. John tells us, that there are many 
antichrists ; and he reckons among them not only those who 
deny the Messiahship of Jesus, but those also who deny 
that Christ is come in the flesh. His humanity he esteems 
as essential to the office as his divinity ; and therefore as he 
opens the Gospel with affirming the latter proposition, the 
first sentence of the Epistle is an appeal to the senses, to 
the sight and touch, as evidence of the Incarnation of this 
Word of Life. He writes, in order that his readers may 
have fellowship together with him, with the Father, and the 
Son, that their joy might he complete ; and states, that his 
message is, that God is perfect light, and therefore that we 
can only have that fellowship by walking in the light. Yet 
still even then we are not to presume that we have attained 
sinless perfection. This, however, should not cause de- 
spondency ; for if we confess our sins, God is faithful and 
just to forgive us our sins, (faithful, for he has promised it ; 
just, because his Son has made satisfaction for them,) and 
not only so, but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
He writes in order that they may not sin; yet if they should 
from the infirmity of their nature, he reminds them that 
they have a righteous Advocate with the Father, who is also 
the propitiation for their sins, and for those of the whole 
world; and the evidence of our having a saving knowledge 
of God is the keeping his commandments. He then enjoins 
mutual lava, in one sense an old commandment, because in- 
culcated from the beginning; in another, new, as so called 
by the Saviour, and shown in him and in them. He classes 


liis readers as children, old men, and young, assigning reasons 
for this distinction, admonishing all against the love of the 
world, or the things of the woWc?, which passaway, and is incom- 
patible with that of the Father; arranging them under three 
heads, acknowledged both by Jews and Gentiles, the desire of 
the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life\ He re- 
minds them, that the coming of many antichrists is a sign of 
the last dispensation, and expresses his confidence, that the 
anointing they had received from the Holy One would keep 
them from error, and that they would have confidence, and 
not he ashamed at their Lord's coming, if they remembered, 
that as he is righteous, they only who are righteous are horn 
of him. He calls upon them to acknowledge the love of 
God in adopting them, which teaches them, that at his 
appearance they shall resemble him ; and this hope will lead 
them to purify themselves even as he is pure, for he was 
manifested to destroy sin, of which the devil is the author; 
and whoever is born of God is not an habitual sinner, for 
the seed God has sown in his heart will remain, and pre- 
serve him; and he then specifies as a proof of having passed 
from death unto life, the love of the hrethre7i, after the 
example of Christ even to dying for them ; and this love 
cannot be genuine, if we refuse to relieve their bodily wants. 
If our hearts assure us that we act up to this principle, we 
shall have confidence toivards God; and herehy tve know that 
he ahideth in us, hy the Spirit which he has give?}, us ; but as 

' All wars have flowed from one fountain, the desire of riches, glory, or 
pleasure. Philo on the Drcnlogiie. The sources of evil are three ; the 
love of pleasure, in corporeal enjoyments ; the love of money, in matters of 
gain ; and the love of preeminence. Clinios, ijuoted by Biahop Jebb in his 
Sacred Literature. 

Men void of virtue hasten various vra3's, 

From peace apart, each class, as each is moved ; 

Those in Ambition's [A($|7}s| hard fought field contend. 

Those creep in crooked paths of sordid Gain [K€pSoavvr}s\, 

And these in Pleasure's ['Xiifiaros tpya] flowery mazes stray. 

Ihjmn of Cleanthe.s. 


there were spirits of false 'prophets abroad, they should 
ascertain if the}^ really possessed the Spirit, which they 
would by not attending the ministry of those antichrists, 
hut that of the Apostles, and by love to God and to 
the brethren, which love will give them boldness in the 
day of judgment, and in proportion to its strength will 
banish tormenting servile fear. A real belief in Jesus as 
the Son of God, and coming not hy loater only, hut hy water 
and hy blood, (that is, by sanctification as well as by recon- 
ciliation,) overcometh the world; and to this there were wit- 
nesses who agreed in one testimony, the water, the blood, and 
the spirit, on earth, {and three in heaven, the Father, the fVord 
and the Holy Spirit,) and if tve receive the witness of men, 
the witness of God is greater. Moreover the believer has 
this witness in himself, that God has given him eternal life, 
and this life is in his Son. And this faith will give us con- 
fidence that our prayers will be answered, and this will 
encourage us to pray for our brethren who have sinned, but 
not unto death. He concludes with saying, that they knew 
that those ivho are horn of God do not commit sin, and cannot 
be injured by the wicked one. The world is under his 
dominion ; but they were of God, and were united to the 
Saviour, who is the true God, and eternal life. Little 
children, keep yourselves from idols. 


Were received by the majority of Christians in the time oi' 
Eusebius. They are also cited as Scripture by some of the 
early Fathers. The Syrian Church, however, has not admitted 
them into the Canon, nor were they generally acknowledged 
at first, probably because as letters to individuals, their 
existence was not for some time known beyond the families 
in whose possession they remained. The resemblance of 
them, both in thought and style, to the First Epistle, will not 


suffer us to doubt concerning the author. Thus, of the 
thirteen verses which compose the Second, no less than 
eight in sense or in words occur in the First. We have no 
materials for deciding their date, or the persons addressed. 
Even the name of the Lady to whom he writes the Second 
is disputed. She is called in the original 'ExXsxrj] Kugloi, 
and this our translators render. To the Elect Lady : Schleusner 
and Rosenmuller, To the Elect Kwgj'a: and the Vulgate, The 
Lady Electa. It is maintained, that as there is no article, 
Electa is the proper name, but it might be translated. To an 
Elect Lady. The Fathers understand it as used figuratively 
for a Church, but it seems more natural to consider her as 
an individual. The object is to prevent her entertaining 
those who maintained doctrines contrary to the truth. He 
probably knew of some false teacher who deserved to be 
called a deceiver and antichrist, who designed to visit her, 
and would abuse the hospitality she was ready to show to 
any of the brethren. He informs her, that ivhoever hid such 
an one God speed, was a partake?' of his evil deeds; nor is 
this decision harsh and unchristian, as it may at first sight 
appear, for a friendly reception of such characters would 
both harden them in their course, and give a sanction and 
influence to them which they would not otherwise enjoy. 


We know nothing of the Gaius or Caius to whom it was 
addressed; the name was exceedingly common, and there are 
three that bear it in the New Testament ; Gaius of Mace- 
donia »; Gaius of Derbe " ; both fellow-travellers of Paul; 
and Gaius of Corinth, whom he calls his host, and that of 
the whole Church. As hospitality was so leading a feature 
in the character of the last, some suppose him to be the 
person addressed ; others conceive, that as St. John seems to 
» Actsx. 19, 29. " Acts XX. 14. 


include him among his children, he must have been his con- 
vert. Diotrephes, we conclude, was either a Bishop, or an 
Elder of influence ; and the authoritative manner in which 
he speaks of him, affords a strong presumption that the 
letter is not that of an obscure John, the presbyter as some 
suppose, but of the beloved Disciple. What individual at a 
distance, except an Apostle, could presume thus to threaten, 
if he come, to remember his deeds? It appears that he 
would not submit to the writer's authority, and had sup- 
pressed a letter he had sent to the Church. 

Some Missionaries to the Gentiles having returned from 
the town where Gains dwelt, (its name is not mentioned,) 
brought back a most favourable report of him. This was 
an occasion of the greatest joy to the writer, and he praises 
his well-beloved Gains for his charity, both to the brethren 
and to strangers. It appears to be a letter recommendatory 
of those by whom it would be presented, and he exhorts 
him to persevere in his kind treatment of Missionaries, and 
warns him against Diotrephes, ivho loved preeminence, and 
not only would not himself receive the brethren, but pre- 
vented the well disposed, by the fear of expulsion from the 
Church. He recommends Demetrius, probably one of the 
beai'ers of the letter, and promises to make an early visit. 



Seven Epistles yet remain for examination, which, strange 
to say, are comparatively neglected ; for they are not the 
Epistles of inspired men, but of our Lord himself, dictated 
to his beloved Disciple, v.ho is no more than his Secretary. 
They are his very words, which is more than can be said 
of his discourses spoken in Syriac, and communicated in 
Greek ; they are moreover his last words, and he himself 
testifies their importance by the conclusion of each, He 
that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the 
Churches ; showing that the praise, reproof, and instruction 
they contain, will be edifying in every age. They are 
dictated to St. John, who presided over them, and under 
peculiar circumstances; for it was not at Ephesus, which 
had been for some years his ordinary residence, but in a 
barren rocky isle, to which, according to the custom of the 
age, he had been banished as a criminal ; but whether he was 
condemned as usual to hard labour, does not appear ; we 
only learn from himself, on account of the word of God, and 
the testimony of Jesus Christ. The evidence for assigning 
his banishment not to the persecution of Nero, rendered 
memorable by the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but to the 
next, that of the Emperor Domitian, appears to me to be 
decisive ; and the date is of great importance, since it would 
make it subsequent to the destruction of the Temple, and 
of course confute those interpreters of the Apocalypse, who 
refer any of the events symbolized therein to the period 


before the extinction of the Jewish Polity, 'rertullian 
has a tale of a legendary character, of John's being cast into 
a cauldron of boiling oil, which did not injure him, outside 
of the Latin gate of Rome, and that notwithstanding the 
manifest miracle, he was then dismissed into exile. We 
learn from these Epistles, that the persecution raged also 
in Asia, and Antipas, a faithful martyr, is specified in that 
to Pergamos ; and in the opening of the Book which is 
addressed to them, John calls himself their companion in 
tribulation. It seems to me more probable, that instead 
of being first sent to Rome, he was banished at once by the 
Proconsul. The place was the little isle of Patmos, at no 
great distance from Ephesus, off the promontory of Miletus, 
no more than fifteen miles in circumference, and described 
as now without stream or tree, and formed of rocks which 
inclose several good harbours, with a population of about 
5000, chiefly employed in gardening. In the Apostle's 
time it was probably more scantily inhabited, and is merely 
named by Strabo and Pliny. 

It was on the first day of the week, which had then obtained 
its appropriate title of the Lord's day, that the writer, being 
in the spirit, suddenly heard a voice like a tncmj^et, com- 
manding him to write to the seven Churches in Asia. He 
turned to ascertain who spoke, and the person was like the 
Son of man, like, that must be, in the features and expression 
of his countenance, but wonderfully changed from that 
Jesus, with whom he had associated as a familiar friend. He 
had had indeed a glimpse of his glory on the holy mount, 
and had seen him ascend into luaven, but he does not appear 
to have now recognised him, for he fell at his feet as dead. 
It is not surprising that the sight was too dazzling for 
mortal vision : for his countenance was as the sun shining in 
his power; and on his like appearance before his incarnation 
to Daniel, that well-beloved prophet retained no strength, 
till his Lord had strengthened him. He appeared clothed, 
c c 2 


like tlie high priest, in a long robe down to his feet, girded 
tvith a golden girdle. His head and his locks were white as 
wool, or snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; his feet 
were like fine brass burnt in a furnace, and his voice was 
as that of many waters. His right hand held seven stars, 
and there went forth out of his mouth a sharp two-edged 
sword; that sword with which, we are told'', he will here- 
after smite the nations, when he rules them with a rod of 
iron; that breath of his mouth, with which the Lord 
will consume his lawless adversary *=. He restores to con- 
sciousness John, who, in the opening of his book, acknow- 
ledged himself his slave, and calls his Master the faithful 
witness, the first-begotten from the dead, and the ruler of the 
kings of the earth, who having washed believers from their 
sins in his own blood, has made them kings and priests to his 
God and Father. He is encouraged by his speech : Fear 
not; I am the first and the last, the living one, though I have 
been dead, and lo I am now living to the ages of ages; and have 
the keys of death, and of the invisible world, in which the dead 
await the final judgment. He was walking, to superintend 
them, amidst the seven lampbearers, which, in imitation of 
the seven-branched luminary in the outer sanctuary of the 
Temple, symbolizeas many Churches ; and the stars he himself 
explains to be the seven angels, that is, the overseers of those 
Churches. The seven selected for admonition are those of 
Ephesus, the seat of the Proconsular government; next, that 
of Smyrna ; and in a circle from north to south, Pei'gamos, 
Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. I say selected, 
for it has pleased God that the number seven should pre- 
dominate in this book, not only in the distinct arrangements 
of his providential government under as many seals and 
trumpets and vials, but even in the description of the Holy 
Spirit, called the seven spirits before his throne, and seven 
lamps of burning fire. It will occur indeed to every reader 
" Hev. xix. 15. <: 2 Thess. ii. 8. 


of the New Testament, that it is a selection, for he will 
remember Colosse, nearer than some of them to Ephesus, 
to which Paul wrote, and in the Epistle to which he 
mentions Laodicea and Hierapolis. 

The historian "i of the Roman empire, in his narrative of the 
Turkish conquest of Asia Minor, thus graphically brings be- 
fore us the fate of these seven Churches ; adding, " that the 
barbarous lords of Ionia and Lydia still trample on the 
monuments of classic and Christian antiquity. In the loss 
of Ephesus, the Christians deplored the fall of the first 
Angel, the extinction of the first candlestick of the Re- 
velation. The desolation is complete, and the temple of 
Diana, or the church of Mary, will equally elude the search 
of the curious traveller. The circus and three stately 
theatres of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and 
foxes ; Sardis is reduced to a miserable village ; the God of 
Mahomet, without a rival and a son, is invoked in the 
mosques of Thyatira and Pergamos ; and the populousness 
of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of the Franks 
and Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by 
prophecy and courage. At a distcmce from the sea, forgotten 
by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, 
her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom 
above fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the 
proudest of the Ottomans. Among the colonies and churches 
of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect ; a column in a scene of 
ruins, a pleasing example, that the paths of honour and 
safety may sometimes be the same," His authorities were 
Wheeler and Smith ; we can add the corresponding testi- 
mony of Chandler, Macfarlane, Hartley, and Arundel. All 
the Epistles begin with the selection of some one of the 
attributes ascribed to the Saviour in the description. 
Thus Ephesus is addressed by him loho holdeth the seven 
stars in his right hand, and walketh in the middle of the 
'' (ilil)lioii, Ixiv. 


seven golden candlesticks. Smyrna, by hiiu tvho is the 
first and the last, who was dead and is alive. Peigamos, 
by him who hath the sharp two-edged sword. Thyatira, by 
the Son of God, with eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like 
fine brass. Sardis, by him ichu has the seven spirits of God 
and the seven stars. Philadelphia, by him who is holy and 
true, who hath the key of David, who openeth and no man 
shuttelh, and shutteth and no man openeth. And Laodicea, by 
him who is Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning 
of the creation of God. Of Smyrna and Philadelphia this 
Searcher of the heart expresses entire approbation: Laodicea 
and Sardis he strongly rebukes : to Thyatira and Ephesus 
he intermingles praise and blame. Each Epistle begins with 
this assurance, / know thy works. A special promise is 
made to each, on the understanding that it continues faith- 
ful. To the hist, permission to eat of the tree of life : to 
the second, a crown of life : to the third, the hidden manna, 
and the white stone, which acquits in the judgment: to the 
fourth, ths morning star : to the fifth, a white robe : the 
sixth, he will make a column in the temple of God : and to 
tlie seventh, he will grant a seat with him upon his throne. 

is at first commended for patience and labour, and for its 
indignation against false apostles, whom it has tried and 
detected, and hatred of the Nicolaitans, hateful also to Him. 
Nevertheless, this Church had declined from its first love; 
and while the Epistle concludes with a promise, it is pre- 
ceded by the threat. Remember from lohence thou art fallen, 
and repent, and do thy first tvorks. Ephesus is famous in 
ecclesiastical history, as the seat of the third General Council, 
A.D. 431, which determined against Nestorius the double 
nature of Christ, but its candlestick has been long since 
removed. Its port, and with it its commerce, has disappeared, 
and tlic plough has pussed over its site. The temple is a 


confused mass of ruinsj yet there are still remains of the 
theatre, so memorable in the life of Paul ; but there are no 
inhabitants; yet a neighbouring village, Aia Saluck, the city 
of the moon, still reminds one of the great goddess, Diana 
of the E'pliesians ! 

though foor, is declared to be spiritually rich. It was 
exposed to tribulation from professing Jews, who were 
really of the synagogue of Satan ; and exhorted not 
to fear, though some of them should be cast into prison, and 
have to suffer ten days' tribulation, but to be faithful unto 
death. It is now flourishing in a worldly sense, and has a 
considerable Christian population. 

as a heathen city, had a bad preeminence, for it is called, the 
seat of Satan; yet, notwithstanding, the. Christians held fast 
their Lord's name, and in persecution had not denied the 
faith, and had among them the followers both of Balaam, and 
of the Nicolaitans". They are admonished to repent, lest he 
should Jight against them with the sword of his mouth. It 
has now a population of 14,000, of which 3590 are 

is commended for love and fidelity, its performance of re- 
ligious worship, its patience, and its increasing attention to 
good works. He reproves them for tolerating a false pro- 
phetess, whom he calls Jezebel, because seducing his servants 
to commit fornication, and to eat of sacrifices of idols, two 
oflences in ancient times closely connected ; and because she 
had not availed lierself of the opportunity he had given her 

•■ The followers of Balaam and of Nicolas appear to inc to be dis- 
tinguished from each other, though probably with some specific difference ; 
they both turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. 


for repentance, he threatens to cast her and those ivhom she had 
seduced into great tribulation, and to kill her children. But 
on the rest, who have not known these depths of Satan, he is 
content to lay no other burden. 

Under the name of Ak Hissar, the white castle, it has a 
Mohammedan aspect. Both Armenians and Greeks have 
a church, but the first only occupy thirty, the second three 
hundred, of the thousand houses of this wretched town, 
which is greatly inferior to Pergamos, and immeasurable to 

a Church in name, was in reality dead. Be watchful, and 
strengthe7i the things that remain. Remember. Hold fast, 
and repent, or 1 will come on thee as a thief. Yet they had 
among them a few who had not defiled their garments, and 
being worthy, shall walk with him in white. 

Sart is described as a solitude that may be felt. Two 
stupendous columns stand among a heap of ruins, con- 
trasting with a few wretched Turkish huts ; and only two 
Greeks were found working there. 

is encouraged by the assurance, that He who hath the 
key of David has set before her an open door tvhich no 
one can shut, because she had a little strength, and kept 
his word, and has not denied his name. Here too, as at 
Smyrna, there were professing Jews, who were really of 
the synagogue of Satan, who shall be made to honour 
them, and to know that he has loved them. On account 
of their showing the patience he required, he promises 
to keep them from the impending hour of temptation. 
Still, as he comes quickly to try them as well as others, 
he charges tlicni to hold fast ivhaf /hey have, that no yuan 
niai) lake their crown. 


Under the name of Allah Sheba, the city of God, it 
covers four hills, has five churches, and about 250 of 
its 3000 houses belong to the Christians. 

alone receives no commendation ; its lukewarmness renders 
it, as it wei-e, a disgusting morsel ; yet such is its self- 
conceit, that it says, I am rich, and have need of nothing. 
Thou knowest not, says the faithful and true witness, that 
thou art tvretched, and miserable, a7id poor, and blind, and 
naked. He counsels her to come to him to buy what 
she needs, true wealth, clothing, and eye-salve; but as he 
rebukes and chastens those he loves, he calls upon them to 
repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock : if any one 
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in, and will 
sup loith him. 

The whole rising ground on which the city stood is one 
vast tumulus of ruins, abandoned to the owl and the fox. 

St. John wrote down these Epistles at his Lord's dictation, 
but he had appeared to him not only for this purpose, but to 
communicate to him through symbols a prophetic history 
of his Church during a variety of trials, till its final triumph 
in a new world, when whosoever is not found written in the 
book of life, shall he cast into the lake of fire ; and God shall 
dwell with men, and be their God, and they shall be his 
people; and there shall he no more death, sorrow, crying, 
or pain. 

He is again in the spirit, but the case is changed, and he 
is permitted to behold the throne of God in heaven, and his 
worship, by all his intelligent creatures ; and surely none 
who believe the Revelation to be what it professes to be, 
can listen to the new song, which ascribes blessing, and 
honour, and glory, and jwtver, not to Him only who sitteth on 
the throne, hut also to the Lamb, and refuse to worship him 


upon earth, whom in heaven not only the redeemed out of 
every nation, but all the Angels, adore ! 

Many expositors have imagined, that these Epistles were 
mystical prophecies of seven periods, into which the whole 
term, from the Apostles' days to the end of the world, 
would be divided. But there is no proof from Scripture 
that seven such periods were to be expected, nor any 
traces of it in the ecclesiastical annals of any part of 
Christendom; while, on the contrary, each Church seems 
to flourish, and then again decline, and then revive, as it 
pleases the Holy Spirit. Nor is there any reason to con- 
clude that a Laodicean spirit, neither hot nor cold, will 
be the characteristic of the age immediately precediiig 
the Millennium. There is no part of the New Testament 
more searching than these brief Epistles ; and though the 
persons to whom they were addressed have long since passed 
away, and most of those Churches are extinct, and the 
Crescent has long domineered over the Cross in this 
formerly Christian as well as classic land, once blessed by 
the instructions of Paul and Timothy and John, yet they 
abound with awakening and edifying admonitions to the 
Christians of every land. Let us remember, that the Spirit 
calls upon Britons to hear what the Spirit said to the 
Churches of Asia. It concerns us as much as them to learn, 
that Jesus knows our works ; that he sees in Churches and 
in individuals what there is to commend and to reprove ; that 
he still rewards and punishes according to the same rule ; 
that he that overcomes temptation will have an appropriate 
reward ; and those who are lukewarm in his service will be 
spurned with unutterable loathing. His rebukes are awful, 
but his promises are ' full of tenderness, and convey a 
deeper meaning than we can in our present state conceive. 

These Epistles open the last Book of Scripture, called 
The Revelation of Jesus Christ. But a far more interesting 


portion remains, for John was commanded not only to 
write these things, but also things which shall be hereafter. 

The Revelation is acknowledged as authentic by the 
earliest authorities ; and none perhaps is so satisfactory as 
lrena3us, because in his youth he had been acquainted with 
Polycarp, the disciple of St, John. It began, however, to 
be questioned in the third century, when writers un- 
favourable to the prevailing notions of the Millennium 
thought the most effectual mode of confuting them would 
be to reject the Book itself, which supplied the subject 
of their speculations. Its authority, however, was re- 
established through the influence of Augustine and Jerome. 
It is remarkable, that Divines of such different schools as 
Calvin and Whitby should decline to interpret this pro- 
phecy, I must think from a false modesty ; for, as if 
foreseeing its disparagement or neglect, it is of this Book 
only that it is written. Blessed is he that readeth, and they 
that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things 
that are written therein; and to show that this blessing 
is not to be limited to the reader of the Seven Epistles, 
it closes in a similar manner. Behold, I come quickly : blessed 
is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecies of this Book. 

Sir Isaac Newton studied this roll of unfulfilled Prophecy, 
as Bacon advised, with wisdom, sobriety, and reverence ; 
and this calm philosopher might with propriety write 
observations on it in his old age; but the following remarks, 
" I think it impossible for any intelligent or candid person 
to peruse it without being struck with the peculiar dignity 
and sublimity of its composition, superior to that of any 
other writing, so as to be convinced, that none but a 
person divinely inspired could have written it," will 
astonish the reader, when he learns that they come from 
the pen of that eminent Unitarian, Dr. Priestley. It is not 
my intention to write a commentary on this mysterious 
vision, which appears to me to be the continuation of the 


history of the feet, part of iron and part of clay, in the King 
of Babylon's wondrous dream, and of the stone which 
filled the whole earth, till it was broken in pieces by 
■ the stone cut out of the mowitain, cut out without hands, 
which is to stand for ever. 

Still, during the eventful period in which my lot has 
been cast, I have naturally studied the words not only of 
Bishop Newton, and the earlier writers before the French 
Revolution, but those of Faber and Elliot ; and though in 
some particulars I may differ from all, I believe in the 
general view entertained by Protestants ; for as I learn 
from St. John himself, that the woman on a scarlet coloured 
beast, with seven heads and ten horyis, Babylon the great, the 
Mother of Harlots, and abominations of the earth, represents 
the great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth ; 
and I find that this Babylon the great is not yet fallen, 
and that paganism in Italy has long since died out, and 
no Csesar reigns there ; I am compelled to regard her as 
representing not Pagan but Pajjal Rome, and wonder with 
great admiration, that this woman should be drunk with the 
blood of the saints, a?id with the blood of the martyrs of 

In Hebrew, the number seven is regarded as the symbol 
of completeness and perfection, derived probably from the 
creation in seven portions of time. Thus the extremity 
of distress is marked by seven troubles ; a character of 
consummate wickedness is represented by seven vices or 
seven devils ; the perfection of wisdom by a palace with 
seven pillars ; and God's omniscience, by seven eyes and 
seven lamps. The perfection of power and wisdom in the 
Son of God, as exercised in the government of his Church, 
is represented by seven horns and seven eyes ; and a long 
range of prophecy, which has already lasted more than 
eighteen centuries, is subdivided under seven seals, seven 
trumpets, and seven bowls. Their application to past 


history and conjecture, for the yet remaining period, falls 
not within my province ; yet I cannot quit the subject 
without a reference to the grand and majestic prophecy, 
by following, as it were, the evangelical prophet into 
heaven, a scene of the joint worship of God and of the 
Lamb, by the whole intelligent creation, a sublime scene 
which must delight all who wish to honour the Saviour, 
and which it seems strange that any Unitarian can behold 
without allowing that the Redeemer is entitled to adoration, 
and that he should stand alone, and devise subtle and un- 
tenable distinctions, to show that the homage to the Lamb, 
though confessedly ascribing to him honour and glory, is no 
act of worship. It will be seen, however, that blessing, 
glory, wisdom, honour, and power, are ascribed alike to 
the Father and to the Son, thanksgiving exclusively 
to the Father, and wealth and dominion to the Son. 
The writer describes the worship he has been privileged in the 
Spirit to behold. The Father oii a throne encircled hy 
a rainbow, the emblem of mercy, and encompassed by 
twenty-four crowned elders, clothed in white, themselves 
on thrones ; and then by four six-ivinged living beings, 
resembling a lion, a young bull, a man, and a flying eagle, all 
engaged in the worship of the Lord, who liveth for ever 
and ever, for whose pleasure all things exist, and were created. 
In the right hand of the Creator was a volume written 
on both sides, and sealed with seven seals ; and an Angel 
invites any who is ivorthy to open this record of future 
events, and this spectator weeps because none presumes 
to oiFer himself; but one of the elders consoled him, saying, 
Weep not. The Lion of the tribe ofJudah, the Root of David, 
has acquired the power of opening the book, and loosing 
the seals. 

John looks, and, behold, a Lamb, who showed in some way 
that he had been slain ; and he came forward, and took the 
book, and then the living beings and the elders, who formed 


the inner circle round tlie throne, fell down before the 
Lamh, and sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to 
take the hook, and open the seals; for thou wast slain, and hast 
redeemed and hast bought us for God by thy blood out of 
every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast 
made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign 
on the earth. The living beings who joined in this hymn 
of adoring gratitude must, like the elders, represent a 
portion of the human race. The former are supposed by 
some, from their number corresponding to the courses into 
which the priests of the temple were divided, to represent 
the ministers of religion, and the latter the laity; but be this 
as it may, both divisions consist of the redeemed descendants 
of Adam ; and heartfelt ought to be the acknowledgment 
of us to our incarnate Lord, who still retaining our nature, 
has sat down upon his Father's throne, and admits us nearer 
to his presence tkan the Angels who never fell. They 
cannot sing the song of the Redeemed, yet rejoicing in the 
Son's mediatorial office, they a countless multitude acknow- 
ledge the fitness of ascribing all honour (o the Lamb that 
tvas slain; and they are joined in the hymn of praise by all 
the rational inhabitants of the universe, including the souls 
of the departed in the invisible world. Such is the honour 
paid to him who now reveaU-, partially at least, the working 
of the Divine decrees; and this Revelation exhibits him not 
merely as the llevealer of the future, but himself also as the 
immediate agent in introducing his reign of a thousand 
years ; for he finally comes forth on a white horse, an irre- 
sistible conqueror, clothed in a vesture dipped with the blood 
(of his enemies), hearing on his head many diadems, having 
on his vesture and his thigh his name written, King of kings, 
and Lord of lo7'ds. In this day of his power he is described 
as having a sharp sioord proceeding from his mouth, that with 
it he should smite nations, when he shall rule with a rod 
of iron. 


The whole Revelation winds up with an invitation to all 
who are athirst, and willing to take without price the tvater 
of life : and Jesus, who is the Root as well as the Offspring 
of David, solemnly testifies to the truth of what has been 
revealed, and closes it with an awful menace against those 
who shall take from or add to the words of this prophecy. 
His last words are, / come quickly. Come quickly, replies 
his beloved Disciple. 

Our Lord had already come in judgment, through the 
Roman legions, for the destruction of the temple, and 
the dispersion of the people of God. He is still to come in 
the clouds, when every eye shall see him; and it seems that 
it was for this personal coming that the disciple longed, 
but for this coming he was not to tarry ; for in a few years 
it pleased his Master to take to himself, through a natural 
death, his aged servant, but not from this scene of exile, 
in which he had been favoured with a vision of the Church, 
passing through successive trials into a glorious future, 
in which she is finally personified as a Bride adorned for 
her husband. The death of Domitian restored him to his 
home at Ephesus, and there he is said to have continued 
till he had almost reached, if he had not completed, his 
hundredth year. One more important work remained for 
him ; for before his departure he was inspired to write a 
fourth narrative of his Master's ministry, as a supplementary 
Gospel, in which he selected from his discourses such 
as were best calculated to guard from error, and to edify 
his people to the end of time, and exhibit as much of his 
inner life as we are permitted to knovv'. Thus it was 
reserved to the beloved Disciple to delineate our Lord 
both in his great humility and his glorious majesty, and 
to close the Canon of Scripture ; the purport of the whole 
of which is, as he wrote of his Gospel, that we might 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing 
might have life in his name. 


The thoughtful Christian must be impressed Vtith grati- 
tude to his heavenly Father, that having in past time spoken 
through prophets, he should speak afterwards hy his Son; and 
that his revelation of docti'ines and precepts should not have 
been entrusted to the questionable conveyance of Tradition, 
but fixed in writing, and soon arranged in a volume not too 
large for the perusal and study even of those who are 
engaged in the business of private or public life. We can 
readily understand, from the additions made to the Bible 
and the Koran by Jews and Mahommedans, that if in the 
succeeding age there had been extant sayings of our Saviour, 
what difficulty there would have been in separating truth 
from fictions, and to determine their authority. Happily, 
we have no such collection, of sayings to examine ; and the 
scanty remains of the Apostolical Fathers, as the few eccle- 
siastical authors of the next age are called, cause us no 
perplexity, for the inferiority of their writings is manifest, 
and they defer to the authority of the New Testament 
writers, whom they quote in the same manner as we do, as 
Scripture. A volume, which has God for its Author, teaches 
us what we are to believe, supplies us with principles to 
direct our conduct, and opens to us the only view we can 
have of the unseen world, is a treasure that may well be 
called more precious than thousands of gold and silver, as with 
its value nothing can be compared. Man is too apt to under- 
rate a blessing which he has always enjoyed, and the only 
way in which we can in any degree realize its excellence, is 
to imagine what would be our condition without it. Our 
University education has the advantage of enabling us to 
form in some degree an estimate of the extent and strength 
and weakness of the human intellect, when left to its own 
sagacity ; and modern history shows how much the standard 
of morality has been raised through the refiected light of 
Christianity shining upon thosei who are little influenced by 
its doctrines, while those who have received the truth in 


the love of it have set their seal lo its excellence, by show- 
ing its effect upon themselves in enlarging the understand- 
ing, and opening and sanctifying the heart. Each successive 
age, under the modifications of society by barbarism and 
refinement, illustrates the enlightening and transforming 
efficacy of the Word of the living God; and if misgiving 
should arise in any mind, by the scepticism of some or the 
perverse ingenuity of" others, in denying or explaining away 
essential articles of our religion, their doubts may be dis- 
pelled and their faith strengthened by a perusal of the 
Reports of our Missionary Societies, which prove that the 
Gospel is now, as of old, alike to the ignorant idolater, and 
to the argumentative apologist of polytheism, the power of 
God unto salvation. This Word then, to which we owe our 
superior civilization and morality, has the strongest claim 
upon our study ; but far be it from me to recommend such 
an exclusive attention to any one study, even of this best of 
books, being persuaded of its tendency to narrow the mind ; 
and believing, as our Lord says of the Scribe, who, instructed 
to the kingdom of God, brings out of his treasure things 
both new and old, that he who takes the widest range of 
reading, will best appreciate the surpassing excellence of the 


London, 377, Stra.nd, 
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Books and Pamphlets recently published by 

SCht cfittnirg dfliintltmiiit. 

THE LITERARY CHURCHMAN was established in order to 
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It is the object of this Journal to place the subscriber entirely au 
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The usual contents of the Journal are as follow : — 

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Designed to aid tlie Clergy in Public Catechising, 
and type with the ^ • ^ — 

Recently published in the Series. 

V. Catechetical Lessons on 

the Parables of the New Testament. 
Part I. Parables I.— XXI. Is. 

VI. Part II. Parables XXII. 

VII. Catechetical Notes on 

the Thirty-Nine Articles. Is. 6d. 

VIII. Catechetical Lessons on 

the Order for Morning and Evening 
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X. Part II. Miracles XVIII. 

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Already published in this Series. 

I. Catechetical Lessons on 

the Creed. 6d. 

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Questions on the Collects, 
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The Nativity. 
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12. The Return of the Prodigal. 
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Now ready, 
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125. The Chief Truths; No. I. The 

Holy Trinity 


No. II. The 
•No. III. The 
■ No. IV. The 


43. . 

124. A Scripture Catechism on the 

Church . - - 
155. A Catechism concerning the 

Church ... 

44. No. V. The 

Ascension - - . 

16 for Is. 
16 for Is. 
16 for Is. 
16 for Is. 

6d. each. 

6 for Is. 
16 for Is. 

45. The Chief Truths ; No. VI. 
The Judgment 

217. No. VII. 

The Holy Ghost - 

218. No. VIII. 

The Holy Catholic 
Church and Communion 
of Saints - - - 
No. IX. The 


Forgiveness of Sins 
No. X. The 

Life Everlasting 

16 for Is. 
12 for Is. 

12 for Is. 
16 for Is. 
12 for Is. 


209. I. Thoushalthave none other 

Gods but Me - 

210. II. Thou shalt not make to 

thyself any graven image 

211. III. Thou shalt not take the 

name of the Lord thy God 
in vain - - - - 
131. Swear not at all - 

5. IV. How to spend the Lord's 
Day - - - - 


1. Exposition of the Apostles' 

Creed - - - - 6 for Is. 
186. Questions and Answers on the 

Athanasian Creed - - 12 for Is. 
134. Letter from a Clergyman on 

the Athanasian Creed - 6 for Is. 

33 for Is. 

33 for Is. 
33 for Is. 

12 for Is. 

130. Where were you last Sunday? 16 for Is. 

212. V. Honour thy Father and 

Mother- - - - 33 for Is. 

166. VL Thou shalt do no Murder 16 for Is. 

213. Vfl. Thou shalt not commit 

adultery - - - 33 for Is. 

96. The Unmarried Wife - - 12 for Is. 

214. VIIL Thou shalt not steal - 33 for Is, 

215. IX. Thou shalt not bear false 

witness against thy neigh- 
bour - - - 33 for Is. 
72. Truth and Falsehood - - 9 for Is. 

216. X. Thou shalt not covet - 33 for Is. 


176. The Lord's Prayer - - 16 for Is. 
154. A Scripture Paraphr;ise on 

the Lord's Prayer - 16 for l.s. 









VICE for Infants explained 
Holy Baptism . - - 
Friendly Words on Infant 
Baptism ... 

Questions about Baptism an- 
swered out of Holy Scrip- 
ture - . . - 
Registration and Baptism 
Wliy should there be God- 
parents - - . - 
Choice of God-Parents 
Advice to God-Parents 
Who should be Sponsors 

VICE explained 

1 14. Are you going to be married? 

115. Duties of the Married State - 

6 for Is. 
6 for Is. 

9 for Is. 

12 for Is. 
12 for Is. 

16 for Is. 
33 for Is. 
] 6 for 1 s. 
S3 for Is. 




76. Plain Speaking to Non-Com- 

municants - - - 

106. One Word more to almost 

Christians, on the Lord's 

Supper - - - - 

77. The Lord's Supper the Chris- 

tian's Privilege 

1S9. Have you ceased to Commu- 
nicate? - - - . 

133. Am I fit to receive the Lord's 

196. Plave you Communicated since 
your Confirmation ? 

192. A Per.suasive to frequent 

206. Devotions Preparatory to the 
Lord's Supper 

OFFICES, &c. &c. 




VICE explained 

9 for ] s. 


Questions for Confirmation. 

First Series - 

9 for Is. 


Ditto. Second Series 

9 for Is. 


Preparation for Confirmation 

16 for Is. 


A Few Words before Confir- 

mation - - - - 

16 for Is. 


Hints for the Day of Confir- 

mation - - - - 

33 for Is. 


Catechism on Confirmation - 

12 for Is. 


A Few Words after Confirma- 

tion ... - 

9 for Is. 

SICK explained 

VICE explained for Wo- 
men about to be Churched 
2. Friendly Words after Church- 
ing - - - . 

SERVICE explained 

6 for Is. 171. THE BURIAL SERVICE 
16 for Is. I explained 

12 for Is. I 46. Thoughts about Burials 










How to spend Advent - - 33 for Is. 

How to keep Christmas - 16 for Is. 

New Year's Eve - - - 12 for Is. 

How to keep Lent - - 12 for Is. 

Ken's Advice during Lent - 16 for Is. 

126. Tract for Holy Week - 
168. Tract for Good Friday 
163. How to keep Easter - 

59. Neglect of Ascension Day 
174. How to keep Whitsuntide 


Be in time for Church 

" No Things to go in" 

The Gate of the Lord's 
House, or Counsels for 
Christian Worshippers, and 
Devotions to be used in 
Church - - - . 

What do we go to Church for? 

How to behave in Church - 

Conduct in Church 

On saying Responses in 
Church - • - 

Do you Sing in Ciiurch? 

Daily Common Prayer 

Do you ever Pray ? 

for Is. 
for ) s. 

for Is 
for Is, 
for Is, 
for Is 

for 1 

for Is, 

fur Js, 

for Is 

51. No Kneeling, no Praying - 12 for la 
137. A Word to tlie Deaf about 

coming to Church - - 33 for 1a> 

71. Church or Market - - 16 for Is 

65. Beauty of Cluirches - - 16 lor It 

153. Doors or Open Scats - 9 for Is. 

47. Plain Hints to Bcll-Ilingers- 16 for la.' 

113. Church Choirs - - - 16 for Is. 

150. Plain Hints to a Parish Clerk 16 for Is. 

151. Plain Hints to Sextons - 33 for Is. 
179. Plain Hints to an Overseer or 

Guardian of the Poor . S3 for Is. 
199. Plain Hints to a Church- 
warden - - - - 12 for Is. 













Devotions for the Sick. Part 
I. Prayer for Patience 

Part II. Litanies for 

the Sick 

Part III. Self-Exami- 

nation - _ - - 

Part IV. Confession 

Part V. Prayers for 

various occasions 

Part VI. Prayers to be 

used daily during a long 
Sickness . _ - 

Part VII. Devotions 

for Friends of the Sick 

Part VIII. Ditto.— 

When there appeareth but 
small hope of recovery 

Part IX. Thanksgiving 

on the abatement of Pain 

Part X. Devotions for 

Women "Labouring with 
Child" .... 

Devotions for Penitents 
Comfort to the Penitent 
Tracts for Female Penitents. 
PartL - - - - 
Part I L 

9 for Is. 
9 for Is. 

9 for Is. 
12 for Is. 

for Is. 

9 for Is. 
9 for Is, 

42. Devotions for the Sick. Part 
XL During time of Cho- 
lera, or any other general 
Sickness - _ . 

75. Hints for the Sick. Part I. - 
116. Ditto. Parts II. and IIL - 
31. Friendly Advice to the Sick. 
96. Scripture Readings during 
Sickness ... 

Are you better for your Sick- 
ness? .... 
Will you give Thanks for 

your Recovery? 
Form of Thanks for Recovery 



64. Devotions for the Desolate - 
172. Devotions for Widows - 

70. Thoughts of Christian Com. 
fort for the Blind 
136. Patience in .\ffliction . 

14. To Mourners . . . 

9 for Is. 


12 for Is. 
16 for Is. 

16 for Is. 
12 for Is. 

182. Tracts for Female Penitents. 
Part IIL 

191. Part IV. 

198, Part V. 

208. Part VL 


Morning and Evening Family 

Prayers . - . . 12 for Is. 
Daily Office for the use of 

Families 9d., in cloth Is. 2d. each. 

Morningand EveningPrayers 

for Young Persons - - 33 for Is. 
Morning, Evening, and Mid- 
night Hymns - . - 16 for Is. 
Morning and Evening Hymns 

for a Young Person - 33 for Is. 

73. On Family Prayer 
105. On Private Prayer 
203. On Common Prayer 
57. Meditation - 

99. Prayers for Schoolmasters 
and Schoolmistresses 

204. Daily Prayers for the use of 
those who have to work 
hard . - . . 

129. Seven Meditations 

164. Meditation on the Day of 
Judgment ... 

111. Litany for Ember Weeks 

. 33 for Is. 

16 for Is. 
- 33 for Is. 

9 for Is. 

16 for Is. 
9 for Is. 
9 for Is. 
6 for Is. 

12 for Is. 

16 for is. 

16 for Is. 
33 for Is. 

33 for la. 
33 for Is. 

12 for Is. 
12 for Is. 
9 for Is. 

6 for Is. 
6 for Is. 
6 for Is. 
9 for Is. 

33 for Is. 

9 for Is. 
6 for Is. 

33 for Is. 
12 for Is. 









A Word in due Season to the 

Parents of my Flock - 12 for Is. 

A Word of Exhortation to 

Young Women - - 9 for Is. 

An E.xhortation to Repent- 
ance - . - - 16 for Is. 

A Clergyman's Advice to a 

Young Servant . . 9 for Is. 

To Masters of Families - 16 for Is. 

A Word to the Aged - - 16 for Is. 

Examine Yourselves - - 12 for Is. 

A Few Words on Christian 

Unity - . . . 9 for Is. 

To Sunday School Teachers 9 for Is. 

To Parents of Sunday Scho- 
lars - . - - 16 for Is. 

A Word to the Pauper - IG for Is. 

Farewell Words to an Emi- 
grant - - - - 16 for Is. 

A Few Words to Travellers - 33 for Is. 

The Farmer's Friend - . 12 for Is. 

A Few Words to the Farmers 3d. each. 


194. Thou God seest me 
60. A Word of Warning to the 

Sinner .... 

92. A Word of Caution to Young 

Men - - . . 

132. Now is the Accepted Time . 

15. Sudden Death - 
144. Nevermind: we are allgoing 

to the same place 
170. "Too late" 
87. Shut out - 
119. Flee for thy Life 
49. Be sure your Sin will find 
you out - - - . 
1 10. The Tongue ... 
121. Make your Will before you 
are ill - 
24. Think before you Drink 

195. Why will ye Die? 

16 for Is. 

16 for Is. 

9 for Is. 
S3 for Is. 
33 for Is. 

16 for Is. 

9 for Is. 

16 for Is. 

16 for Is. 

16 for Is. 
12 for Is. 

33 for Is. 
16 for Is. 
33 for J s. 



Illustrated, 2d. each. 


26. *Alice Grant 
152. Bye and Bye 

19. *Coinplaints and their Cure 

81. *The Cloud upon the Mountain. 3d. 

66. *The Curate's Daughter, or Sacredncss of 

83. *The Day that never came 
135. Edward Elford ; or, Who's afraid? 

18. *Edwin Forth, or the Emigrant 

25. *The Fair on Whit-Monday 

90, *Hannah Dean 

10. * Harry Fulton 
101. The Hop Picker 

80. *It might have been Worse 

78. Her Sun has gone down while it was yet 

N.B. Those marked with an asterisk are hound 
cloth, 3s. 6d. The Remainder ii 









Joseph and his Brethren 

Jane Smith's Marriage 

Little Geoffrey 

*Mary Fisher 

The Modern Martyr 

*Mr. Sharpley 

♦Nothing lost in the telling 

*The Prodigal 

The Promised Estate 

Richard Reveley's Legacy 

*The Rock and the Sand 

*" Thou shalt not Steal," or the School 

*Tony Dilke 
Too old to be questioned 

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1 " Parochial" Tales, price 2s. 6d. 


1. The Cottage Pig-Stye. 

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5. The Village Shop. 


6. Who Pays the Poor-rate, 

86. Mrs. Morton's Walk. 

148. Two-pence for the Clothing Club. 

159. The Widower. 

The Set bound in cloth, price 2s. 


6. The Beatitudes - - - 
146. Twelve Rules to live by God's 
Grace . - - - 
104. The Christian's Cross - 
122. Consult your Pastor - 
117. Reverence- _ . - 

58. Schism - . . - 

109. Conversion . . - 

4. Almsgiving every man's Duty 
50. Weekly Almsgiving - 
138. Honesty, or paying every one 
his own - - - - 

12 for Is. 


Sailor's Voyage - - - 

12 for Is. 


Evil Angels 

12 for In. 

33 for Is. 


The Holy Angels 

12 for 18. 

16 for Is. 


Fasting - - . - 

12 for Is. 

16 for Is. 


Pray for your Pastor - 

16 for Is. 

16 for Is. 


Arc all Apostles? or a few 

12 for Is, 

words about the Christian 

9 for Is, 

Ministry _ . - 

16 for Is. 

9 for Is, 


The right way of reading 

12 for Is, 

Scripture ... 

12 for Is. 


Love your Prayer-book 

16 for Is. 

6 for Is. 


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